SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2020, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (5): 685-690.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2020.05.002

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The Returning-migrant-induced Urbanization: The New Path of Urbanization in Middle China

Luo Xiaolong1(), Cao Shujun2, Gu Zongni1   

  1. 1. School of Architecture and Urban Planning/Urban-Rural Governance and Policy Research Center, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, Jiangsu, China
    2. Nanjing Urban Planning & Research Center, Nanjing 210029, Jiangsu, China
  • Received:2019-02-10 Revised:2019-04-28 Online:2020-05-10 Published:2020-08-18
  • Supported by:
    National Key Research and Development Program(2018YFD1100800)


Based on the research on population spatial diffusion and its variation in migration, this study proposes that a new path of urbanization in central area of China is emerging, namely returning-migrant-induced urbanization (RMIU). Through conducting an intensive questionnaire survey and a lot of interviews in several cities in Middle China, as well as comparing with urbanization pathways in the coastal China, we conclude 3 new characteristics of the RMIU. First, the county-level central cities have become the main attractive places for hosting returning migrants, where is the first choice for a large share of returning migrants. This is due to abundant job opportunities, good public service, better education resources, good living condition and lower living expenses. Unlike their elder generation returning from coastal areas who become peasants again, the new returning generation is still working in non-agricultural fields, both in manufacturing industries and tertiary sector. Second, many “pendular populations” are existing in counties and county-level cities, which means people working in cities, but living in countryside. Therefore, this is a centripetal urbanization featured as the strong county proper, which is much different from urbanization process in coastal China, such as exo-urbanization, urbanization from below, peri-urbanization, in situ urbanization. Third, the prefectural cities are also an important option for returning migrants for living and working, especially for those people with better economic condition. RMIU is a new phenomenon recently occurring in middle China, which is totally different from urbanization pathways in eastern China. Regarding the driving forces behind the process of RMIU, the shift of manufacturing industries from developed coastal areas to middle China is a main contributor, which creating a lot of job opportunities for returning people. With such shift, many floating persons who once worked in coastal cities are returning their hometown or nearby cities for living and working. The kinship social network facilities such trend of migrant return, as they must solve their problems of kids’ education and the eldly care. So, economic factors are not the very important force underlying the current wave of returning migrants. In addition, some of them start up business in their hometowns, with market experiences and skills getting from the coastal China. This induces the endogenous development in Middle China. Finally, some policy implementations are highlighted, including rural revitalization, urbanization policy and urban transition.

Key words: returning-migrant, urbanization, floating population, Middle China

CLC Number: 

  • TU982.2