Tropical Geography ›› 2022, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (5): 824-833.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003464

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Spatial Pattern and Evolution of Multi-Stage Migration in China: A Comparative Study Based on the First-Time and Current-Time Migration

Jie Lin1,2,3(), Wenqian Ke1,2,4(), Liyue Lin1,2,4, Yu Zhu1,2,4, Baoyu Xiao1,2   

  1. 1.Institute of Geography, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou 350007, China
    2.Key Laboratory for Humid Subtropical Eco-geographical Processes of the Ministry of Education, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou 350007, China
    3.Institute of Geography, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou 350007, China
    4.Asian Demographic Research Institute, Shanghai University, Shanghai 200444, China
  • Received:2021-04-23 Revised:2021-10-20 Online:2022-05-26 Published:2022-05-26
  • Contact: Wenqian Ke;


Extant studies examining the process of population migration in China are mostly based on the two front and back nodes of first-time migration and the final settlement (or return). However, less attention has been paid to the subsequent flow of the population and the overall flow process of multi-stage migration, which has caused problems. There are significant gaps in the understanding of the multi-stage process of population migration and flow in China, which also affect the expansion and deepening of the spatial pattern and law of population migration. Considering the above, this article is supported by the 2017 China Mobile Population Dynamic Monitoring Survey data; it used descriptive statistics and community discovery methods comprehensively to analyze the first-time migration of the floating population and the current-time migration between cities of different regions and scales and levels, as well as spaces between different cities. Thus, a comparative study on the spatial differentiation characteristics revealed the inherent laws of similarities and differences. The results show that (1) regarding regional differences, the pattern of outflows remains relatively stable in the two phases of mobility, while the changes in the pattern of inflows are mainly reflected in the decrease in the proportion of inflows to the central region and the increase in the proportion of inflows to the western region in the current-time migration. The proportion of inflows to megacities decreases significantly, while the proportion of inflows to Type I megacities, medium-sized cities, and Type I small cities increases; furthermore, the proportion of inflows to municipalities directly under the central government and municipalities with separate plans increases, and the proportion of people moving to sub-provincial and provincial capitals decreases. (2) The net migration pattern between cities and municipalities is stable, with net in-migration distributed in "blocks" in developed cities in the eastern coastal provinces and in "dots" in central and western provincial capitals and some resource-based and port cities, while net out-migration is distributed in blocks. Net in-migration is distributed in blocks in most cities in the central and western regions and inland cities in the coastal provinces, whereas net out-migration is distributed in blocks in most cities in the central and western regions. (3) The two stages of migration are dominated by the intertwined patterns of migration in the vicinity and long-distance migration, and the pattern of migration networks between cities and regions is thus characterized by the phenomenon of "dense east and sparse west," with the Hu Line being the boundary. However, there is also a decrease in the size of migration to Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei at the current-time migration stage of mobility, with the Yangtze River Delta replacing the Pearl River Delta as the preferred inflow region. (4) The livelihood strategies and spatial inertia of the mobile population are the main reasons for their similar spatial patterns in the first-time and current-time migration stages of mobility. The transformation and upgrading of the industrial structure and the gradient transfer between regions are important forces that lead to changes in the destination choices of the floating population. The main contribution of this study is an innovative comparative analysis and a description of the spatial pattern of the first-time and current-time migration of the floating population. Furthermore, it provides a feasible observation perspective for the cognition of the spatial characteristics and evolution rules of the multi-stage flows of the floating population.

Key words: multi-stage migration, first-time migration, current-time migration, floating population, spatial pattern, livelihood strategy, China

CLC Number: 

  • C922