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Assessing the impact of internal labour migration on intergenerational support, health and income: the cases of China and South Africa

Pathfinders group

Jane FalkinghamAthina Vlachantoni, Lucy Jordan, Victoria Hosegood, Ling Zhu, Zhen Wang, Fang Cai, Sabu Padmadas, Maria Evandrou, Mark Collinson, Jackie Wahba, Yang Du

This project was funded under the ESRC’s Pathfinder Research Programme on ‘Collaborative Analysis of Microdata Resources-China/South Africa’ and conducted in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa), and the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies.


Project summary

China and South Africa have witnessed rapid industrialisation and economic growth, which has been partly fuelled by the availability of migrant labour, particularly moving from rural areas to urban centres. Building on existing research partnerships, this project allows the study of patterns of internal migration in the two countries and their impact on the financial, physical and social wellbeing of groups 'left behind'. The research analysed data from hitherto ‘hard to access’ datasets and the project includes a capacity building element on the analysis of large and complex datasets.

The project had three overarching objectives. Firstly, by utilising country-specific data relating to China and South Africa, the project aimed at improving access of UK researchers to previously unused or under-used datasets which can assist the exploration of policy relevant research questions relating to the physical, social and economic well-being of people in these two countries. Secondly, through strengthening existing research networks with colleagues in China and South Africa, the project aimed at maximising opportunities for knowledge exchange of both substantive and methodological issues. Finally, by strengthening existing research networks, the project was aimed at providing a launching pad for future collaboration between British, Chinese and South African researchers. It was envisaged that through data analysis the project would generate new knowledge and highlight gaps in the evidence base for informed policy making, also contributing to planning regarding mitigating the impact of economic migration on the well-being of children and older people.


Project activities

Date Activity Description
9 November 2012 International Symposium on Migration, Economic and Social Development in Modern China, University of Southampton. The event was jointly organised by the Confucius Institute, CPC and GHP3. It involved panel discussions chaired by Professor Jane Falkingham and Dr Sabu Padmadas.
10-12 September 2012 BSPS conference 2012 - special session, University of Nottingham. Special session organised by Dr Sabu Padmadas, with presentations from the project team.
4-6 September 2012 ESRC Pathfinder project joint workshop, De Vere New Place, Southampton. Meeting organised by the Pathfinder project team to share research and discuss further development.
5-6 April 2012 ESRC Pathfinder project meeting, Beijing. Meeting organised by the Pathfinder project team to share preliminary findings.
30 March - 1 April 2012 ESRC Pathfinder Research Programme Research Methods Training Workshop, China Population & Developent Research Centre (CPDRC), Beijing. Workshop introducing participants to some approaches for analysing types of longitudinal data covering both the timing of events and repeated measurement of an outcome. Lecturers included Sabu Padmadas, Jackie Wahba and James Brown.
15-20 January 2012 ESRC Pathfinder project meeting, Johannesburg. Presentations and planning meetings for the project.



Please see the ESRC website for more information on this project.


Media activities

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