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Migration Dialogue provides timely, factual and nonpartisan information and analysis of international migration issues through five major activities: the newsletters Migration News and Rural Migration News, Changing Face and other Research & Seminars, and the Sloan West Coast Program on Science and Engineering Workers.
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There are almost four rural-urban internal migrants around the world for each international migrant. One of the largest such migrations is in China, where some 270 million rural residents live in cities without urban hukous or residence permits, making 20 percent of Chinese citizens somewhat akin to international migrants.
Chinese citizens receive public services such as education and health care in the place where they are registered, so rural-urban migrants and their children have limited access to local public services. China's 1954 constitution guaranteed "freedom of residence and freedom to change their residence," but the hukou system was introduced in 1958 to prevent rural-urban migration that could lead to urban slums.
The hukou system created second-class urban residents. Migrants earned an average $15 a day in 2014, but their insecure status where they live contributes to high savings and continued links to rural areas to which they could return and farm if they lose urban jobs. Some rural-urban migrants do not want urban hukous because obtaining them would require them to give up their farmland. Some migrants hope to save from higher urban earnings and retire to rural areas where the cost of living is lower.