SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2016, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (6): 820-828.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2016.06.003

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Studies on the Temporal Processes of Migration and Their Spatial Effects in China: Progress and Prospect

Yu Zhu1,2,3(), Liyue Lin1,2   

  1. 1.Institute of Geography, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou 350007, Fujian, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Humid Subtropical Eco-geographical Process(Fujian Normal University), Ministry of Education, Fuzhou 350007, Fujian, China
    3. Asian Demographic Research Institute, Shanghai University, Shanghai 200444, China
  • Received:2015-05-28 Revised:2015-11-25 Online:2016-10-20 Published:2016-10-20
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Sciences Foundation of China(41471132,41501163) The Australian Research Council (DP110101363)


This article provides an overview of international literature on the temporal aspect of the migration process, and a comprehensive and systematic review on progress in the research on the temporal processes of migration and their spatial effects in China. The review suggests that in China’s migration research, some attention has been paid to the temporal processes of migration and their spatial effects, reflected in the fact that the temporal factor has been considered in some research concerning migrants’subsequent migration following their first move to the cities, the stepwise reunion for members of migrant split families and the corresponding evolution of their multi-locational livelihoods, and their intention of return migration or settlement in the cities in the last stage of their migration process. However, the review demonstrates that there is a lack of systematic and integrated investigation into various stages of the migration process and comprehensive examination of the temporal changes in migrants’ livelihood in terms of their employment, housing and household characteristics.The review also suggests that our understanding of factors affecting migrants’ spatial behavior in the lengthy and multi-stage migration process is inadequate, and that the exploration on the temporal dimension of the migration process is constrained by the lack of individual-level event history data. Based on the above review, the article argues that in China’s future migration research, more efforts should be devoted to collect event history data relating to the migration process, divide it into various stages, and systematically examine detailed characteristics of each migration stage and the related temporal and spatial changes in migrants’ employment, housing and families, in order to fill in the gap in understanding the temporal processes of migration. The article further advocates that efforts need to be devoted to integrating the results of research on each specific stage of the migration process into a comprehensive understanding of the regularity in the evolution of the migration process as a whole. The article suggests that research as described above will expand and deepen our understanding of the temporal and spatial patterns of migration and their formulating mechanisms, and contribute to the development of relevant theories.

Key words: migration, temporal process, spatial effects, China

CLC Number: 

  • F291.1