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Policy Options for Improving and Innovating Floating Population's Management and Service in the Process of Urbanization


By Han Jun, He Yupeng & Jin Sanlin, Research Team on "Overall Policy Options for Improving and Innovating Floating Population's Management and Service in the Process of Urbanization", Research Department of Rural Economy of DRC

Research Report No 86, 2013 (Total 4335)

Population will transfer from agricultural sector to non-agricultural sector and from less developed areas to developed areas. It is an inevitable phenomenon in the process of industrialization, urbanization and modernization, and it also characterizes the important stage of economic and social development in China. Since reform and opening up, floating population in China had increased from 6.57 million in 1982 to 230 million in 2011, which has never been seen in any other countries in the world in terms of its high speed, large scale, wide range and complex structure. Floating population has made a huge contribution to economic and social development, whereas it also poses serious challenges to social management. It is of strategic importance to strengthen and improve the services and management for floating population to gradually settle them down in urban or rural areas, so as to build a well-off society in an all-round way and achieve the goal of modernization. To this end, we must adopt a macroscopic thinking, a forward-looking vision and systematic methods to conduct the top-level-based system design at the national level.  

I. Significance of Improving and Innovating Floating Population's Management and Service Policy

Fast growing floating population has brought more vigor and vitality to the whole society and has made great contribution to economic and social development in China. They have brought comparative advantage of labor, an important source for China to sustain fast economic growth and maintain international competitiveness. Rural population flowing to cities and towns has become an important engine for China's faster urbanization. It has promoted inter-regional economic exchanges and boosted the economy of regions where they migrate from or migrate to. The large-scale rural-urban migration has accelerated the transformation of the dual urban-rural economic structure and sped up the pace for china to step into the rank of modernized countries.

Population flow has changed the basic economic and social patterns, and it will have an overall, strategic and historic influence on China's future economic and social development. Providing guidance to realize orderly population floating and reasonable distribution is conducive to improving land resource allocation by reducing the rural population, enhancing farmers' comparative benefits and realizing balanced urban-rural development and synchronous progress of the "four modernization", and helping to build a stable and high-quality team of industrial workers and the vast middle class in cities and improving the structure of income distribution and people's consumption level, so that China will be developed into a nation with high-income and featured by modernization, harmony and creativity. Besides, such efforts can guarantee and improve the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people, consolidate the Party's ruling foundation and facilitate the construction of a harmonious society. We must further change our mind to fully understand the significance of improving and strengthening the management and service for floating population in the process of building a well-off society in an all-round way and achieving modernization and address this issue by putting it into the overall planning of the Party and the government.

II. Major Problems in Present Management and Services towards Floating Population

The CPC Central Committee and the State Council pay high attention to the management and service towards floating population and have made major decisions and arrangements, so that competent departments and regions can implement them and make active pilot practices. However, the management and service system for floating population is still incomplete due to many reasons. Along with the transformation of the intergenerational structure, more stable life and better education, the floating population now has quite different desires and appeals, posing a greater challenge to the improvement of management and service for these people.

1. Poor public services for floating population

The floating population receives insufficient effective service from the public employment agencies, and has no access to the re-employment security in places where they live and work. The policy of "major role by public schools and the government of the receiving locality" for the compulsory education for migrants' children in cities has been unevenly implemented. Around 20% of children of migrant rural workers go to private schools or schools for migrants' children with poor infrastructure and faculty. Their pre-school education and entrance examinations for high school and college have become increasingly urgent problems. The floating population also face "difficulty and high cost for medical service" caused by poor plan of medical insurance system and difficult settlement service for medical treatment received in places beyond their local villages or towns. Moreover, it is still serious to prevent and control occupational diseases for rural migrant workers. In some places where floating population has no access to equal public health service and family planning service, the immunization coverage rate of their children is low. With a low participation rate in urban social security, the floating population is denied minimum living allowance and other social welfare services in the cities where they work and they are not covered by the urban housing guarantee system. The mechanism for protecting the basic cultural rights and interests of floating population is incomplete and migrants have a poor cultural life.   

2. Inadequate protection of floating population's rights and interests remains prominent in some aspects

The floating population, mainly migrant rural workers, generally receives low wages. Wage arrears for migrant rural workers are still found in some enterprises. A limited number of rural workers have signed labor contracts. They work in places with poor work security and sanitation environment and often work overtime. Floating population, mainly migrant rural workers are contracted in irregular labor dispatch so their labor rights and interests are not effectively guaranteed. This leads to a high incidence of labor disputes. In some areas where the land rights and interests of migrant rural workers are not well protected, forced transferences of land-use rights often occur from time to time.   

3. Limited social participation and integration of floating population

Refused by organizations, activities and management in the communities where they work and live, floating population lacks systemized channels to express their rights and interests. The Party and the Youth League organization and the trade union for the floating population are too weak to be effective.

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