Young migrants prefer city

Updated: 2011-07-22 07:35

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)

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BEIJING - The latest survey on migrant workers' employment showed that the younger generation of farmers-turned-workers are not willing to go back to cultivating farmland as their parents do.

The survey, conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' population and labor economics institute, covered 1,200 workers - including young and old, and rural and urban - at 60 enterprises in Chongqing and Tianjin between March and April.

Through comparison, researchers found only 17 percent of the young migrant workers surveyed (aged 24 and under) were willing to return home to rural areas if they could not survive in cities. More than 80 percent of these young migrant workers wanted to stay in cities no matter what happened to them.

Gao Wenshu, an associate professor specializing in human resources at the academy, said that the figures showed a new trend among young migrant workers, who prefer to settle in cities.

Older migrant workers, however, tended to travel between cities and farmlands from year to year, and to believe their roots were in rural areas.

The survey found young migrant workers have adapted well to urban life and their lifestyle is "no different" from their city peers, Gao said.

They surf the Internet and chat online in their free time, instead of sleeping, dining and drinking as their parents did. Some 67 percent of the young migrant workers surveyed were satisfied with their jobs, an even higher figure than the 56 percent among workers from urban families.

But despite their zeal for settling in cities and the diligent efforts they make to achieve that goal, the cities seem not to welcome them, experts and delegates of migrant workers said on Thursday at a workshop on urban inclusion of China's young migrant workers.

Zhao Fengsheng, from Hunan province, who came to Beijing in 2007 and worked as a restaurant waiter, a street vendor and a delivery boy, said that migrant workers in cities endure poor accommodation, malnutrition and a monotonous cultural life.

"I lived with restaurant workers for a while a few years ago. Eight men plus one cook's girlfriend shared a 12-square-meter room, which had four bunk beds," he said.

Zhao said the cities' policies - from household registration to education - are deterring migrant workers from coming to cities.

Wang Chunguang, a researcher specializing in migrant worker issues at the academy, criticized the government of Wenzhou in Zhejiang province for refusing to provide compulsory education to children who move there with their migrant worker parents.

"I felt depressed because Wenzhou should be the last to do so," Wang said.

In China, Wenzhou is well known as a city whose residents leave to find jobs elsewhere. At least 6 million Wenzhou people have left to live in cities across the country. About 200,000 others have gone abroad, he added.

Experts said the situation is slowly improving, as social security policies have been revised in favor of migrant workers.

Wang Dinghua, a senior official with the Ministry of Education, said the ministry will allocate more funds to enable more migrant children to enroll in urban public schools.

At present, 11.67 million rural children have followed their parents to cities.

Only 70 percent of them are being educated at public schools. The rest have to go to private schools opened for migrant children, which are usually small and not well equipped.


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