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Title:The impacts of rural-to-urban labor migration on the rural environment in Chongqing municipality, southwest China: Mediating roles of rural household livelihoods and community development
Author(s):Qin, Hua
Director of Research:Flint, Courtney G.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Flint, Courtney G.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Dawson, Jeffrey O.; Liao, Futing; Gasteyer, Stephen P.
Department / Program:Natural Res & Env Sci
Discipline:Natural Res & Env Sciences
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):migration and environment
mediating-factor theory
rural-urban migration
rural livelihoods
community interaction
rural environmental conservation
Abstract:The relationship between population and the environment holds an important role in research on the linkages between human society and ecological systems. Recent studies on population and the environment have turned research focus toward the more dynamic factor of population processes – migration. The mediating factor approach to population and environment provides a basic theoretical model for understanding the complex relationship between migration and the environment. Thus far, few studies have been conducted on the environmental impacts of migration particularly circular labor migration in the rural communities from which migrants originate. The increasing rural-to-urban labor migration in China since the early 1980’s has formed the largest population flow in world history. The primary objective of this doctoral dissertation research project is to obtain a better understanding of how this large-scale circular labor migration movement impacts the rural environment through sociocultural and economic mediating factors. Major intervening variables identified in recent literature on environmental effects of migration revolve around rural livelihoods and community development. A comprehensive conceptual framework was developed in this study that incorporated the rural livelihoods approach and the interactional theory of community development into analyzing environmental consequences of rural migration. The core assumption was that household livelihoods and community interactional capacity were critical intervening variables between rural out-migration and its subsequent environmental outcomes in rural origin areas. The analysis drew on empirical data collected from four rural villages in Chongqing Municipality, where the rural-to-urban labor migration rate is currently the highest in China. This study used a mixed-methods approach in data collection and analysis. Secondary socioeconomic and biophysical data provided contextual information for the study area and guided the selection of study communities. In-depth key informant interviews gathered detailed information about rural livelihoods and community interaction experiences in study communities for the development of survey instrument, and provided a contextualized backdrop for the analysis of survey data. The household survey was conducted using a face-to-face questionnaire interview technique to collect data on household livelihood activities and community participation for statistical analysis. Results confirm the research hypothesis that labor-migrant and non-labor-migrant households are significantly different in livelihood activities including agricultural practices, income and consumption, and resource use and management. Labor-migrant households differed particularly from those non-labor-migrant households whose members were all mainly engaged in agricultural production, while sharing many similar livelihood characteristics with those which had member(s) holding regular local off-farm work. In addition, this research found that the relationship between rural labor out-migration and community interaction varied across study communities. Findings suggest rural migration presents both detrimental and beneficial potentialities for community development in rural origin areas. Labor migration constrains the participation level of migrants and migrant households for community activities, at the same time that it creates possibilities for constructing a rural community field extending beyond local boundaries. Altogether, these findings have implications for the subsequent environmental outcomes of rural labor out-migration and corresponding natural resource management and policy in rural origin areas.
Issue Date:2010-01-06
Rights Information:Copyright 2009 Hua Qin
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-01-06
Date Deposited:December 2

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