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Migrant Workers Not So Keen to Have a City Home: Survey

Gaining a permanent city residence is not the goal of most migrant workers in the Pearl River Delta (PRD), a survey has revealed.

Organized by Guangzhou's Sun Yat-sen University, the poll, which involved 3,084 migrant workers in nine cities in the PRD region, including Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Shenzhen, found that less than a quarter of them were seeking a permanent city home.

The respondents had an average age of 29.5 years and 55 percent of them were men.

More than 77 percent of the workers said they had only a junior middle school or lower educational background. Just 2.7 percent had attended junior college for professional training, while the remainder had studied at senior high schools and secondary specialized schools.

Cai He, a sociology professor at the university and the survey's organizer, told China Daily: "Just 24.8 percent of the interviewees said they were willing to give up their farmland to attain permanent residences in the city."

The rest said they wanted to keep their farmer status or were still undecided.

Under the residence management system in China, rural people must give up their farmland if they want to become town dwellers. In doing so they also give up a large part of their salaries, Cai said.

Rural people who hold farmland are paid an annual bonus, which can be several thousand yuan, depending on the wealth of their village. Men generally receive more money than women.

"To migrant workers who earn only a few hundred yuan a month, these bonuses are a large part of their income," Cai said.

Also, migrant workers, even those without a permanent city residence, already enjoy many of the benefits of regular urban dwellers, a Guangdong official said.

Zhang Xiang, a spokesman for the Guangdong department of labor and social security, said: "All people living and working in cities have the right to be protected by the five social insurances: old-age, unemployment, medical, injury at work and maternity, regardless of whether they have a permanent city residence or not."

Therefore, migrant workers' enthusiasm for getting permanent city residences is not as great as one might expect, Zhang said.

Yao Dehua, 21, left his home in central China's Jiangxi Province three years ago to work in a toy factory in Zhongshan in Gunagdong. Six months later, he got a better-paid job in Dongguan, the province's manufacturing base.

"Most factories provide social insurance for workers nowadays," Yao said. "I often change my job, so a permanent city residence does not have any appeal for me."

By the end of 2006, 10.7 million people had purchased social insurance in Dongguan, 75 percent of whom were migrant workers, the local bureau of labor and social security said.

However, some migrant workers from Guangdong's villages are not content with the situation. They are eager to settle down in cities in the hope of getting permanent city residences and improving their social status.

Some people want to get a permanent city residence because they hope it will help their children who will be able to better schools, Cai said.

He said Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai were the most popular choices in the PRD for those seeking a permanent residence, ahead of places such as Zhongshan and Dongguan.

But obtaining a permanent city residence in Guangdong is not easy, a source from Guangdong police said.

The two most common ways are purchasing a house or apartment, or getting a job in the city after finishing college or postgraduate studies, the source said.

However, both are tough for the majority of migrant workers who have neither the finances nor the educational background.

(China Daily June 7, 2007)

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