Journal of Geographical Sciences

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 35–48 | Cite as

The regional types of China’s floating population: Identification methods and spatial patterns



With the rapid increase of the number and influence of floating population in China, it is urgently needed to understand the regional types of China’s floating population and their spatial characteristics. After reviewing the current methods for identifying regional types of floating population, this paper puts forward a new composite-index identification method and its modification version which is consisted of two indexes of the net migration rate and gross migration rate. Then, the traditional single-index and the new composite-index identification methods are empirically tested to explore their spatial patterns and characteristics by using China’s 2000 census data at county level. The results show: (1) The composite-index identification method is much better than traditional single-index method because it can measure the migration direction and scale of floating simultaneously, and in particular it can identify the unique regional types of floating population with large scale of immigration and emigration. (2) The modified composite-index identification method, by using the share of a region’s certain type of floating population to the total in China as weights, can effectively correct the over- or under-estimated errors due to the rather large or small total population of a region. (3) The spatial patterns of different regional types of China’s floating population are closely related to the regional differentiation of their natural environment, population density and socio-economic development level. The three active regional types of floating population are mainly located in the eastern part of China with lower elevation, more than 800 mm precipitation, rather higher population densities and economic development levels.


China floating population regional types spatial pattern composite-index identification method 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Cai Fang, Wang Dewen, 2003. Migration as marketization: What can we learn from China’s 2000 census data? The China Review, 3(2): 73–93.Google Scholar
  2. Caroline B Brettell, James F Hollifeld, 2000. Migration Theory: Talking across Disciplines. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Chan K W, 2010. Fundamentals of China’s urbanization and policy. The China Review, 10(1): 63–94.Google Scholar
  4. Chen Tianhui, Liu Shenghe, 2009. Research summary of the floating population in China. Journal of Anhui Agri. Sci., 37(30): 14940–14942, 14948. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  5. Fan C Cindy, 2005. Interprovincial migration, population redistribution, and regional development in China: 1990 and 2000 census comparisons. The Professional Geographer, 57(2): 295–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fan C Cindy, 2008. China on the Move: Migration, the State, and the Household. London and New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Fan Lida, 2009. Measuring interprovincial flows of human capital in China: 1995–2000. Population Research and Policy Review, 28(3): 367–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Jiang Leiwen, 2006. Living conditions of the floating population in urban China. Housing Studies, 21(5): 719–744.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gu Chaolin, Cai Jianming, Zhang Wei, 1999. A study on the patterns of migration in Chinese large and medium cities. Acta Geographica Sinica, 54(3): 204–212. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  10. He Jiaosheng, Pooler Jim, 2002. The regional concentration of China’s interprovincial migration flows, 1982–90. Population and Environment, 24(2): 149–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Huw J, 1990. Population Geography. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  12. Junichi Ito, 2008. The removal of institutional impediments to migration and its impact on employment, production and income distribution in China. Economic Change and Restructuring, 41(3): 239–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Li Bingqin, 2006. Floating population or urban citizens? Status, social provision and circumstances of rural-urban migrants in China. Social Policy & Administration, 40(2): 174–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Liu Shenghe, Jiang Fang, Zhang Qing, 2007. Urbanization in China: Regional diversity and policies for coordinated development. Population Research Bimonthly, 31(3): 7–19. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  15. Lu Qi, Wang Guoxia, Yang Chunyue, 2006. Several explanations to the relationships between the geographical distribution change of migrants and economic development change in regions of China, 1990 and 2000. Geographical Research, 25(5): 765–776. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  16. Lu Qi, Wu Peilin, Lu Lixin et al., 2005. The relation between the characteristics of the migrants and economic development in Beijing and the regional differentiation of their distribution. Acta Geographica Sinica, 60(5): 851–862. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  17. Population Census Office of the State Council, 1993. National Bureau of Statistics, Population Statistics Department. China’s 1990 Census Data (a total of 4 books). Beijing: China Statistics Press. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  18. Population Census Office of the State Council, 2002. National Bureau of Statistics Population and Social Statistics Division of Science and Technology. China 2000 Census Data (a total of 3 books). Beijing: China Statistics Press. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  19. Population Census Office of the State Council, 2003. National Bureau of Statistics, Population Statistics Department. China’s 2000 Census Data at County Level. Beijing: China Statistics Press. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  20. Suzanne D W, 2010. Population Geography. In: Zeng Y. Demography. UNESCO-EOLSS.Google Scholar
  21. Yao Huasong, Xu Xueqiang, Xue Desheng, 2008. The progress of the research on the floating population in China. Urban Problems, (6): 69–76. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  22. Zai Liang, Ma Zhongdong, 2004. China’s floating population: New evidence from the 2000 Census. Population and Development Review, 30(3): 467–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Zhang Liang. 2001. The age of migration in China. Population and Development Review, 27(3): 499–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Zhu Chuangeng, Gu Chaolin, Ma Ronghua, 2001. The influential factors and spatial distribution of floating population in China. Acta Geographica Sinica, 56(5): 549–560. (in Chinese)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Science in China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shenghe Liu
    • 1
  • Zhang Hu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yu Deng
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yingjie Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchCASBeijingChina
  2. 2.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations