There is a growing concern about the environmental impacts of urban population growth in light of the rapid urbanization of the world’s population over the past decades. Rural–urban migration is a particularly important component of the urbanization process in developing countries and is often considered to be detrimental to urban environmental conditions. However, few studies have explicitly examined the presumed negative impacts of in-migration on the natural environment of cities. The continuously increasing volume of rural–urban labor migration in China since the early 1980s has formed the largest population flow in world history.
Prof. Hua Qin’s recent study links the existing literature on population–environment and urbanization–environment interactions by empirically assessing the relationship between rural–urban migration and urban air conditions in China. A two-period (2004 and 2010) longitudinal dataset for the 113 key environmental protection cities of China was constructed based on multiple data sources. The research then applied the STIRPAT equation using conventional and spatial panel regression models to examine whether rural–urban migration flows were associated with air pollution in cities.
Results show a strong negative association of in-migration with urban air quality even after controlling for the effects of other population, affluence, and technology factors. Findings from this research can contribute to a better understanding of the environmental consequences of rural–urban migration in China, with broader implications for sustainable development research and policies.
Prof. Hua Qin received his Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (with a specialization in Environmental and Natural Resource Sociology) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.