Posts Tagged ‘rural’

Migration in China: Invisible and heavy shackles (Economist)

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Powerful charting compares official stats to reality for the agricultural "ecosystem refugees" who find themselves in the city. Related: US Census releases data on geographic mobility for 2008.]

Republished from the Economist.

Until China breaks down the barriers between town and countryside, it cannot unleash the buying power of its people—or keep its economy booming.

ON THE hilly streets of Chongqing, men with thick bamboo poles loiter for customers who will pay them to carry loads. The “stick men”, as they are called, hang the items from either end of the poles and heave them up over their shoulders. In a city where the Communist Party chief, Bo Xilai, likes to sing old revolutionary songs, these workers should be hymned as heroes. Yet few of them are even classed as citizens of the city where they live.

Most of the stick men were born in the countryside around Chongqing. (The name covers both the urban centre that served as China’s capital in the second world war, and a hinterland, the size of Scotland, which the city administers.) Since 1953, shortly after the Communists came to power, Chinese citizens have been divided into two strata, urban and rural, not according to where they live but on a hereditary basis. The stick men may have spent all their working lives on the streets of Chongqing, but their household registration papers call them “agricultural”.

The registration system (hukou, in Chinese) was originally intended to stop rural migrants flowing into the cities. Stick men were among the targets. In the early days of Communist rule in Chongqing the authorities rounded up thousands of “vagrants” and sent them to camps (vagrants, said Mao Zedong, “lack constructive qualities”). There they endured forced labour before being packed back to their villages.

201019fbc434Rapid industrial growth over the past three decades has required tearing down migration barriers to exploit the countryside’s huge labour surplus. Hukou, however, still counts for a lot, from access to education, health care and housing to compensation payouts. To be classified as a peasant often means being treated as a second-class citizen. Officials in recent years have frequently talked about “reforming” the system. They have made it easier to acquire urban citizenship, in smaller cities at least. But since late last year the official rhetoric has become more urgent. Policymakers have begun to worry that the country’s massive stimulus spending in response to the global financial crisis could run out of steam. Hukou reform, they believe, could boost rural-urban migration and with it the consumer spending China needs.

In early March 11 Chinese newspapers (it would have been 13, had not two bottled out) defied party strictures and teamed together to publish an extraordinary joint editorial. It called on China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), which was then about to hold its annual meeting, to urge the government to scrap the hukou system as soon as possible. “We hope”, it said, “that a bad policy we have suffered for decades will end with our generation, and allow the next generation to truly enjoy the sacred rights of freedom, democracy and equality bestowed by the constitution.” Not since the Tiananmen uprising in 1989 had so many newspapers simultaneously cast aside the restraints imposed by the Communist Party’s mighty Propaganda Department, which micromanages China’s media output.

Continue reading at the Economist . . .

All Streets (Ben Fry)

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

[Editor's note: This map under counts roads in National Forests in the west but still shows the US has more than enough roads to maintain. Dense (with roads) metro urban clusters readily stand out. Thanks Michael!]

Republished from Ben Fry’s site.

All of the streets in the lower 48 United States: an image of 26 million individual road segments. No other features (such as outlines or geographic features) have been added to this image, however they emerge as roads avoid mountains, and sparse areas convey low population. This began as an example I created for a student in the fall of 2006, and I just recently got a chance to document it properly. More technical details can be found here and additional updates here.
View more at Ben Fry’s site . . .

Vote! Map of Newspaper Endorsements in the 2008 US Presidential Election (InfoChimps)

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

[Editor's note: This interactive map and blog post from InfoChimps shows how most newspapers across the US have endorsed Obama for president over McCain. The accompanying blog post discusses how notions of "red" and "blue" states has problems and might better be conceptualized as urban & rural.

Republished from InfoChimps where they have full table listing of each newspaper, their endorcement, and circulation stats. Thanks Lynda!]

View interactive version at InfoChimps!

Screenshots: map – big · med · sm | bar graph

See also: our «Red/Blue split vs. Rural/Urban split» graph

Apart from the unsurprising evidence that (choose one: [[Obama is the overwhelming choice]] -OR- [[there is overwhelming liberal media bias]]), I’m struck by the mismatch between papers’ endorsements and their “Red State” vs “Blue State” alignment.

  • I think the amount of red in the blue states is a market effect. If you’re the Boston Herald, there’s no percentage in agreeing with the Boston Globe; similarly The Daily News vs New York Post, SF Examiner vs SF Chronicle &c. (One reason the Tribune endorsement, even accounting for hometown bias, is so striking.) I don’t mean that one or the other alignment is wrong, or chosen cynically — simply that in a market supporting multiple papers, readers and journalists are efficiently sorted into two separate camps.
  • The amount of blue in the red states highlights how foolishly incomplete the “Red State/Blue State” model is for anything but electoral college returns. The largest part of the Red/Blue split is Rural/Urban. Consider the electoral cartogram for the last election. Almost every city is blue, even in the south and mountain, while almost all rural areal is red, even in California and Massachusetts. The urban exceptions on the cartogram — chiefly Dallas, Houston and Boise — stand noticeably alone on the endorsement map as having red unpaired with blue. (in this election even the Houston Chronicle is endorsing Obama, but they are quite traditionally Republican.)

This seems to speak of why so many on the right feel there’s a MSM bias. Roughly 50% of the country lives in a top-50 metro area (metros of over a million people: like Salt Lake City or Raleigh, NC and on up), 50% live outside (in rural areas, or in cities like Fresno, CA and Allentown/Bethlehem, PA or smaller). But our major newspapers are located almost exclusively in urban areas.

Thus, surprisingly, the major right-leaning papers are located in parts of the country we consider highly leftish: the largest urban areas are both «the most liberal» and «the most likely to support a sizeable conservative target audience».