Migrant workers and environmental amenities and infrastructure in urban China: from the lens of environmental justice

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Department of Social Sciences


Although the environmental justice literature has extensively examined a number of notable demographic backgrounds (e.g. race/ethnicity, class, gender, age), it is relatively limited in exploring the environmental inequity confronted by groups with different social identities and the associated institutional causes that vary tremendously across national and political-economic contexts. This study argues that the household registration system in China, which creates pronounced institutional discrimination against and unfavorable social characterization of migrant workers, is a critical while often overlooked contributor to environmental injustice in contemporary urban China. We examine the connection between the share of urban population without official permanent registration and local governments’ provision of public environmental amenities and infrastructure. Analyzing panel data on China's 290 cities from 2008 to 2014, we find that cities with a higher percent of temporary population tend to have a significantly lower level of wastewater and solid waste treatment facilities. However, the level of temporary population is not associated with public green space.

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Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning