The subjective well-being of Internal Migrants – evidence from four conurbations in China

Published: 03-07-2020| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/3vkyjtfgmp.1
Jiajing Sun,
Xi Wang,
Michael Cole


This article is a compressive analysis of the job satisfaction and so work-based subjective well-being (SWB) of internal migrants across four Chinese conurbations. Various aspects of work-based SWB are considered, specifically satisfaction with income, skill acquisition, potential realization, working conditions and the overall levels of job satisfaction, thus incorporating both hedonic and eudaimonic measures of SWB. Our analysis controls for many personal, social and economic attributes, such as age, gender, education and income. In particular, we focus our analysis on the income effect, theorize two contrasting effects (signal and envy) of relative income, and analyze which effect dominates. We contrast the effect of Hukou status and find that those with non-agricultural Hukou expect to be more integrated into the local societies than the cohort with agricultural Hukou. In particular, we consider impacts from social networks on SWB and find that the cohort with agricultural Hukou disproportionally rely on referral from friends or family to obtain jobs. Finally, the decision to become self-employed amongst migrants is also investigated. We find that the cohort of self-employed migrants are amongst the worst educated and have lower SWB.