Mental Health among Migrants in Shenzhen, China: Does it Matter Whether the Migrant Population is Identified by Hukou or Birthplace?Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 11 27; 15(12)IJ
Massive rural⁻urban migration in China has drawn attention to the prevalence of mental health problems among migrants. Research on the mental health of Chinese migrants has a narrow focus on rural⁻urban migrants, emphasizing the institutional role of hukou in migrant mental health. We argue that the heterogeneity of migrants, including their place of origin and whether they are temporary or permanent migrants, should be taken into account when trying to understand the meaning of migration as an actual movement from one place to another. The data used for this study is from a cross-sectional survey (N = 855) conducted in Shenzhen to compare the differences in migrants' mental health that arise when using the two definitions (e.g., hukou and birthplace). Binary logistic regression models were estimated to assess the associations between people's mental health and migration, while controlling for settlement experiences, self-reported physical health, and sociodemographics. The results reveal inconsistent findings across both definitions: general migrants by birthplace were found to be unlikely to have mental problems compared to non-migrants, whereas temporary migrants were at higher risk of mental problems. The study provides important evidence that different migrant groups have different mental health outcomes. The choice of the definition used influences both migrant group selection and the actual linkage between migration and mental health.