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Finding a job in urban China: A comparative analysis of migrants and natives

Kuang-Chi Chang


Although migration scholars have demonstrated that migrant workers behave diffe-rently from locals when looking for jobs, past research in China’s urban labor market has pre-sented puzzling results by showing that individuals (both rural migrants and urban natives alike) predominantly rely on social networks when job searching. Using data collected by a 2008 survey in Shanghai, this study nonetheless reveals significant differences between the two groups’ job searching methods insofar as migrants are less likely to use hierarchy method to find jobs. I also show that while both migrants and urban natives often relied on network me-thod when looking for employment, the pattern of such reliance decreases over time. I suggest job search methods, particular network behavior, can be viewed as strategies that individuals employ to solve problems in their specific institutional environment, and such strategies are likely to evolve in response to the changing opportunities and incentives in the corresponding institutional segments for Chinese migrants and natives.


job search; rural-to-urban migrants; urban natives; market transition; China

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