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In Session: Reconceptualizing Migration and Displacement in Extraordinary Times
Helping the Poor to Escape Poverty or Creating a Bigger Problem? China’s Poverty Alleviation Resettlement and the Social Integration of Migrants
Monday, March 22, 2021
10:00am – 11:30am EDT
Poverty alleviation resettlement (PAR) is one of China’s flagship initiatives to alleviate poverty. Instead of investing in dispersed and ecologically fragile villages, the Chinese government has been constructing centralized high-density resettlement communities in small counties and peri- urban regions. Despite a burgeoning literature on development-induced resettlement, urbanization-driven resettlements and ecological resettlements, research on China’s PAR policy and its outcomes is limited. Informed by integration theory, this study explores what happens to a sample of long-distance PAR migrants and whether they can integrate into new circumstances. A household survey covering 287 PAR migrant households in one of the national-level poverty- stricken counties in Southwest China was carried out between July and August 2020. Semi- structured interviews, focus group discussions and OLS regressions were conducted to analyze the impacts of resettlement initiatives and the social integration of long-distance PAR migrants. Our findings suggest that PAR improved the living conditions of households, while, difficulties and challenges of social integration were also prominent after relocation. Empirical results indicate social integration was better among older, more educated females, with off-farm employment, unmarried, with a higher household income and more months of residence; while economic integration encountered an inverted U-shaped transition over time. Our analysis highlights the role of community-based organization in facilitating social integration and the importance of providing more targeted post-resettlement assistance to sustain livelihoods of the relocated population.