The Interface Between Migration and (Global) Social Protection in China

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 17:00
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Armin MUELLER, University of Goettingen, Germany
Economic globalization and the accelerated growth of the reform period have reinforced spatial and social mobility within and through the PRC. Its labor markets are fueled with rising numbers of migrant workers and foreign citizens crucial to its new position in the global economy. How are those migrants protected socially while being on the move? Based on institutional analysis and semi-structured interviews, this paper compares the social protection arrangements of domestic and transnational migrants. It relies on the new conceptual tool of the “resource environment” to explore the interface of migration and social protection between migrants’ sending and destination points. In the post-planned economy, both groups face similar challenges regarding formal social security, which largely depends on citizenship, residential and occupational status. Their mobility exposes them to gaps and overlaps between the protective institutions of both places and problems of portability when crossing international and/or sub-national borders. For both, integration into social insurance in Chinese cities depends primarily on a formal Chinese labor contract. Formal protective institutions at the sending points can serve as fall-back-options upon return, or be extended across borders to cover (some) migrants in their destination areas. Markets provide functional equivalents for those able to pay. In similar ways, informal social security via family or community networks can be extended to, or integrate migrants. The inter-penetration between different national and sub-national welfare regimes determines the stratification of international and domestic migrants’ resource environments in the PRC. The individual policies of the sending and receiving states and sub-national jurisdictions alter the coverage of formal protective institutions, and migrants’ dependence on informal social security. The level of protection largely depends on the social positions they simultaneously hold at their sending and receiving points.