Labor protection for migrant workers in China: A perspective of institutional reform

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter is to examine the protections the government's laws and policies afford the Chinese migrant workers in a period of social and economic reform and expansion. Using the conceptual framework of institutional analysis and development (IAD), this chapter focuses on the notion of "commons," a general term referring to resources shared by a group of people or a community who may be vulnerable to exclusion or other social dilemmas. In the case of China's migration, the commons that all Chinese seek are quality employment, and their socioeconomic rights and well-being. The dilemma is how the benefits of economic growth can be shared. Analysis of Chinese labor and welfare laws and policies reveals that policy decisions, even though made from the top down, reflect a shared understanding on the content of societal commons across individual workers, families, communities, employers, nongovernmental organizations, and central and local governments. Analysis also indicates that collaboration for policy implementation results in compromise and prevents reaching the full range of socioeconomic rights and well-being of disfranchised Chinese migrant workers. It is noted that the key ingredients of good policy making and implementation will be enacted through increased participation among all societal institutions, and the case of China's migration may set up such a precedent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSocial Issues in China
Subtitle of host publicationGender, Ethnicity, Labor, and the Environment
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781461422242
ISBN (Print)9781461422235
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Commons
  • Institutional analysis and development (IAD)
  • Labor rights
  • Migrant workers in China
  • Policy protection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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