Social Capital, Migration, and Educational Opportunities in the Urban Chinese Context
Palmer, Neal Andrew
In China, rapid but geographically uneven development has led to massive migration from rural to urban areas. The hukou residency registration system has traditionally limited the rights of migrant families, and although public education is now technically available, associated fees often lead children to enroll in alternatives, such as private or migrant schools. Using survey data from rural parents who were working in Chinese urban areas as part of the China Ministry of Education’s 2006 project, “The Transition of China’s Rural Labor to Urban Areas,” I use parents’ social capital to predict type of school enrollment for migrant children. Results indicate that parents’ attachment to their urban community and neighborhood social interaction feature prominently in the ability of children to attend public schools; reliance on neighborhood resources to the exclusion of other support, however, may be associated with attendance at less desirable schools. Implications for labor, migration policy, education, and conceptualizations of social capital in the Chinese context are discussed.