Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 497–543 | Cite as

Migration and Health Selectivity in the Context of Internal Migration in China, 1997–2009

  • Yuying Tong
  • Martin Piotrowski


Using data from the 1997–2009 waves of the China Health and Nutrition Survey, we examine the ‘healthy migrant hypothesis’ in a setting where internal migrants face significant barriers to movement. Going beyond much of the existing literature in the Chinese context, we use an appropriate comparison between migrants and non-migrants at origin, using detailed health measures, and data spanning a wider geographic and temporal extent than had been previously considered. Consistent with research from both international migration contexts and other internal migration settings, we find that migrants are positively selected on the basis of health, although the relationship between health and migration diminishes across time. The strongest evidence for health selection comes from a subjective self-reported health measure, although we also find evidence for selection against those experiencing acute health conditions. We speculate that the across-time differentiation may be caused by the rapid social, economic and policy changes in China’s economic reform era. Thus, we suggest that migration scholars should consider the changing macro context when theorizing about selection factors.


Migration Health Selectivity China Internal migration 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA

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