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Migration, Poverty Alleviation and Wellbeing of the Elderly: Population Modeling for Rural Western China


Jian Quanbao
Marcus Feldman
Project Mentor

The researchers developed models for the time course of the economic demography of remote Chinese villages that takes into account the migration, and sometimes return, of the villagers, the predicted remittances, the costs for maintenance of those remaining in the villages (mainly parents and children of the migrants), and the marriage squeeze on males, which is very pronounced in remote rural China. They constructed formal mathematical models that include the above-mentioned features, as well as the rate of migration (which is available from our data). These models are necessarily mathematical simplifications of the actual social and aging processes, but they allow predictions as to the needs of these communities over the next few decades. It is natural to assume that China’s economic growth will continue at a rate within a few percent of its present value, and hence that rural-to-urban migration will continue.

The data previously collected provides a snapshot of the needs of the communities in remote rural China. The researchers’ models allowed prediction of the future needs, in terms of facilities for education, health care, management of the elderly, as well as transportation infrastructure, which they have shown is a major impediment to economic progress in remote rural China. Modeling then explored how rural-urban migration and poverty alleviation policies affect the wellbeing of the elderly and their very young family members in rural Western China. Application of these models to the data provided important suggestions for formulation of policies regarding the ever-increasing migration of farmers to urban areas.

At paper entitled "Demographic Consequences of Gender Discrimination in China: Simulation Analysis of Policy Options" was published in Population Research and Policy Review in 2011. A second paper entitled Marriage squeeze in China’s future was published in Asian Population Studies in 2011.  And a third paper entitled Estimates of missing women in twentieth century China was published in Continuity and Change in 2012. A paper entitled "The Life Cycle of Bare Branch Families in China---A Simulation Study" " has been accepted by Canadian Studies in Population and another paper entitled “Marriage squeeze, never-married proportion and mean age at first marriage in China” is now under review.