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Asian Demographic Research Institute

Research Pillar on Internal Migration and Urbanization


Research Themes:

Works of the research pillar are conducted under two overarching themes: the mobility transition and the settlement transition. The former is related to the changing levels, forms, patterns and spatial impacts of population mobility, and the latter is related to the changing levels and forms of population concentration in human settlements.


Core members:

Yu Zhu: Professor and Pillar Leader, Ph.D. (Australian National University)

Zhen Li: Assistant Professor, Ph. D. (University of New York at Albany)

Chen Chen: Postdoctoral Fellow, Ph. D. (University of California at Los Angeles)


External collaborators:

Martin Bell (University of Queensland): Adjunct Professor, Ph.D. (University of Queensland)

Elin Charles-Edwards (University of Queensland): Adjunct Research Fellow, Ph.D. (University of Queensland)

Aude Bernard (University of Queensland): Adjunct Research Fellow, Ph.D. (University of Queensland)

Liyue Lin (Fujian Normal University): Adjunct Associate Professor, Ph.D. (Fujian Normal University)


Ongoing projects:

IMAGE ASIA Project: Centered at ADRI at Shanghai University and building on the work of the recent Global IMAGE project at the University of Queensland, this project is a collaborative endeavor involving international scholars from throughout the region. It uses a systematic approach that draws on the datasets and migration indicators developed through the Global IMAGE project to calculate a range of standardized statistics that capture various dimensions of internal migration to enable a cross-country comparison in Asia on a rigorous basis. A book based on the results of the project will be published, with chapters contributed by collaborators from each individual country involved in the project. 

Other Selected Projects:

The temporal and spatial processes and the mechanisms of multi-stage migration: Case studies from Fujian province of China (supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China)

The temporal and spatial processes and the mechanisms of family migration from the perspective of multi-locational livelihoods (supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China)

Return migration and in situ urbanization of migrant sending areas (supported by Economic and Social Research Council of UK)

Studies on changing migration patterns of the floating population in China based on the data from National Health and Family Planning Commission of China


Selected publications:

Zhu, Y., 2017: Advancing research on internal migration in Asia: The mobility transition hypothesis revisited, Asian Population Studies, DOI: 10.1080/17441730.2017.1328862.

Zhang, T., Zhu, Y. and Lin, L.Y., 2017. The locational choices of return migrants’ housing under the perspective of in situ urbanization (in Chinese), Jingji Dili (Economic Geography)374):84-91.

Liang, Z., Li, Z. and Morooka, H. 2017. Differential effects of migration networks: The case of China, Chinese Journal of Sociology 3(3): 354-378.

Lin, L. Y. and Zhu, Y., 2016. Spatial variation and its determinants of migrants' Hukou transfer intention of China's prefecture- and provincial-level citiesEvidence from the 2012 national migrant population (in Chinese), Dili Xuebao (ACTA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA) 7110):1696-1709.

Zhu, Y., 2016.Changing trends of internal migration in China: International experiences and their implications (in Chinese), Renkou Yanjiu (Population Research)405):50-60.

Zhu, Y., Ding, J. H., Wang, G. X., Shen, J. F., Lin, L. Y. and Ke W. Q., 2016. ‘Population geography in China since the 1980s: Forging the links between population studies and human geography’, Journal of Geographical Sciences, 26(8): 1433–1158.

Xu, W., Yu, L. Zhu, Y. and Lin, L. Y., 2016. Beyond human capital: Determinants of migrant labour market outcomes in urban China, The China Review 16(3):175-211.

Zhu, Y., Xiao, B. Y. and Lin, L. Y., 2015. Changing spatial and temporal patterns of China’s floating population: findings from the 2000 and 2010 censuses. In Iredale R. and Guo. F. (eds.), Handbook of Chinese Migration, pp. 48-70. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, USA: Edward Elgar.



Yu Zhu

Link: http://cms.shu.edu.cn/Default.aspx?tabid=37917

Yu Zhu is a distinguished professor at the Asian Demographic Research Institute (ADRI), Shanghai University, and leads ADRI’s research pillar on Internal Migration and Urbanization. He is also a professor of the School of Geography; and Director of the Center for Population and Development Research, at Fujian Normal University. His research straddles the two disciplines of Demography and Human Geography, focusing on issues related to internal migration and urbanization. His current research involves the examination of multi-directional and multi-stage mobility and multi-locational livelihoods of China’s floating population, the extent and evolution of China’s in situ urbanization and its underlying mechanism, and the related theoretical and policy implications in both China and the international context. His research has been supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National Social Science Foundation of China, The Wellcome Trust and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the UK, the International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada, and the Australian Research Council (ARC), etc. He has also published widely, both in China and internationally, having written five books and more than 100 journal articles and book chapters. He has been on the list of Elsevier’s Most Cited Chinese Researchers for the two consecutive years of 2014 and 2015.

Yu Zhu is currently a member of the International Advisory Board of the UN Habitat’s World Cities Report; a member of the International Advisory Board of Population Space and Place; a member of the Editorial Board of International Migration Review and Asian and Pacific Migration Journal; Standing Council Member of the China Population Association; and Deputy Director of the Committee on Population Geography, the Geographical Society of China. In recent years, he has also served as Chair of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP)’s Scientific Panel on the Impact of Internal Migration and Urbanization in Developing Countries; Chair of Asia and Pacific Migration Research Network; member of the first International Advisory Group of the IOM Migration Research and Training Centre. He received his Bachelors and Master’s degrees from East China Normal University, and his Ph.D. degree from the Demography Program of the Australian National University.


Zhen Li

Zhen Li (Chinese, PhD from the State University of New York at Albany) joined the Asian Demographic Research Institute as an Assistant Professor in 2016. She works in the pillar on internal migration and urbanization. Trained as a social demographer, she is broadly interested in migration and urban studies. Her research has been mainly focused on the patterns, changes and consequences of rural-to-urban migration in contemporary China.


Chen Chen

Chen Chen is a post-doc researcher in the Asian Demographic Research Institute (ADRI) at Shanghai University. She is working with Professor Yu Zhu on ADRI’s research pillar on Internal Migration. She is interested in using both quantitative and qualitative methods to understand how population migration changes people’s lives, household division of labor, and affects regional development in both migrant sending and receiving areas. She has participated in numerous surveys and has conducted extensive fieldwork in China’s countryside.