Gansu Survey of Children and Families Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [71490731]; China’s National Social Science Foundation [19CRK015] and China Postdoctoral Science Foundation [2018M641572].


This working paper was published in a journal:

Zhao, Menghan and Emily Hannum. 2019. "Stark Choices: Work-Family Tradeoffs among Migrant Women and Men in Urban China." Chinese Sociological Review 51(4):365-396.


China’s so-called “floating population” of rural-urban labor migrants includes rising numbers of couples and families migrating together. Labor market outcomes may differ for migrant men and women, in part due to family obligations, but few recent studies have investigated this possibility. This paper focuses on the relationship of labor outcomes with family obligations among migrant men and women and considers whether this relationship differs among those with higher and lower earnings potential. We perform nested logit models of employment status and OLS regression analyses of income, using a nationally-representative survey collected in 2013. For migrant women, childcare responsibilities are negatively associated with employment and income. In contrast, for migrant men, being co-resident with children has no bearing on probability of being employed full-time and is sometimes positively associated with income. Further, the “motherhood penalty” in income is most pronounced among migrant women with the least education. Results illustrate the embeddedness of individual migration decisions and outcomes within families. Findings also highlight a stark choice facing many migrant women: between earning for their children and living with them.


migration, gender differences, family-work conflict, motherhood penalty, floating population



Date Posted: 15 June 2021