Migration, Relative Deprivation, and Psychological Well-Being in China
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AbstractThis article investigates how rural-to-urban migration influences migrants' perception of relative deprivation, and how relative deprivation mediates the effects of migration on psychological well-being in China. During the past three decades, China has experienced large-scale rural-to-urban migration. Because of the institutional barriers to their permanent settlement in cities, Chinese migrants are often sojourners in cities and maintain close bonds with their sending communities; return migration is common. It is therefore unclear to what extent current and return migrants use an urban or rural frame of reference when they assess their social positions and how that assessment influences their psychological well-being. The data come from the 2012 China Labor Dynamics Survey, a nationally representative survey. The analytical sample consists of 13,204 individuals. The positive aspect of psychological well-being is measured by happiness and the negative aspect is measured by the frequency of emotional problems affecting role functioning. Relative deprivation is indexed by two variables: subjective position on a 10-rung social ladder and perceived fairness of current living standard. The findings suggest that after moving to cities, migrants may have adopted an urban frame of reference and suffered institutional exclusion and personal discrimination. Consequently, current migrants are more likely to perceive relative deprivation than both rural and urban nonmigrants of similar characteristics. The urban frame of reference had lingering effects after migrants returned to rural areas, so that return migrants reported more relative deprivation than their rural counterparts. The higher level of relative derivation perceived by migrants and return migrants contributed to their lower levels of happiness, as compared with urban and rural nonmigrants. There is little evidence that relative deprivation mediates the relationship between migration and the frequency of emotional problems affecting role functioning. This study theorizes and provides evidence for a previously overlooked psychosocial pathway between migration and psychological well-being.
All Author(s) ListJin L
Journal nameAmerican Behavioral Scientist,American Behavioral Scientist
Volume Number60
Issue Number5-6
Pages750 - 770
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
KeywordsChina; migration; psychological well-being; relative deprivation
Web of Science Subject CategoriesPsychology; Psychology, Clinical; Social Sciences - Other Topics; Social Sciences, Interdisciplinary

Last updated on 2021-20-09 at 23:52