PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2015, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (9): 1084-1095.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2015.09.002

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Advances in research on driving factors of return migration and employment behavior of migrants

rrJiangbin YIN1,2()   

  1. 1. Center for Land Resources Research in Northwest China, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710062, China
    2. Urbanization and Environmental Simulation Key Laboratory in Northwest China, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710062, China
  • Online:2015-09-25 Published:2015-09-25


Labor migration is becoming more frequent in the era of globalization and regional economic integration and involves the parallel processes of out migration and return migration. As a developing country with the largest population in the world, China's return migrants in rural areas have been increasing in number and the trend of bi-directional labor migration is increasingly clear. This article provides a comprehensive overview of international and Chinese research on return migration based on labor return migration theories, motivation of return migration, and employment behavior and mechanism of returnees. We found that the economic theory of success-failure dichotomy was dominant in theoretical explanations of the phenomenon of return migration in the past, but this dichotomy has been increasingly challenged by sociology and other theories. Among the driving factors of return migration, migration duration, wage, and human capital characteristics significantly influence the likelihood of return, but social ties to areas of origin and socioeconomic policy context at home also play an important role in the process of returning home.Returnees have better economic performance because of their accumulation of savings and skills and their entrepreneurial projects improve living conditions and income of the family and promote economic diversification of the home areas. Because of the differences in institutional environment and stage of economic development, return migration within China differ from other countries with regard to driving factors and occupational choice. Finally, perspectives of research on return migration in China were put forward in respect to theory, spatial effects of return migration, and return of new generation rural migrant workers.

Key words: return migration, theory, driving factors, employment behavior, mechanism