Return migration and entrepreneurship in rural China: The case of Wuwei county

Hui Xu, Sylvie Démurger
Group d’Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France

This paper analyzes return migrants’ occupational choice upon their return to their home village, by using an original rural household survey conducted in Wuwei county (Anhui province, China) in 2008. We apply two complementary approaches: a horizontal comparative analysis of occupational choice between non-migrants and return migrants, and a vertical investigation of the impact of migration experience on returnees only. Two main findings are drawn up from the estimation of probit models which account for potential selection bias and endogeneity. First, return migrants are more likely to be self-employed and to opt for higher ability jobs than non-migrants. Second, both return savings and the frequency of job changes during migration increase the likelihood for return migrants to become self-employed. These findings suggest that (a) working experience during migration enhances individual’s skill level and entrepreneurial ability, and (b) repatriated migration experience is a key stimulating factor in promoting rural entrepreneur activity.

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