Junko, what you say is the reality in 99% of the cases, most don't go back. This applies identically in India as well, where in addition to city jobs, farmers who have lost lands under local government's SEZ policies and have no other option but to move to cities.
I am tempted to quote one of my favorite authors here, Oliver Wendell Holmes... "A mind that is stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!"
A US worker at Boeing cannot afford a plane either. There are many similar examples. If the Chinese products were expensive, would people buy them? The most important issue is to provide employment, as the rising unemployment in US, Europe and elsewhere is going to cause social upheaval. Welfare is self-destruct as able-bodied folk scramble for the remote in front of big LCD TVs provided by state largesse. There are generations on welfare with no intention of working all over the first-world.
When the spring festival is coming every year, I will go back to my hometown to visti my parents who I haven't seen for about one year.
My plan is save enough money to buy a house in the capital of Jiangxi province.
Many my workmates also plan to buy a house in their hometown capital or have bought a house there.
The price of shenzhen or guangzhou is so high taht I can't afford it with my incoming.
Depends on the city, in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai the professional will stay, others simply can't afford to stay and will go to home region or settle in regional or county level cities later on. This at least is the stereotypical experience for ?? (People who seek their fortunes in Beijing), ???(People who seek their fortunes in Shanghai, the strange name is a pun on western digital), ??/?? that worked in Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Dongguan.
However, for regional cities like Wuhan, Chengdu, Xuzhou etc. People tend to be from the province the city resides in and migrants will stay in the city due to more relaxed and easy Hukou transfer process and similar culture.
Also don't overlook the effect of people returning to the home region and starts business themselves, manufacturing hubs like Yiwu are initially build by this sort of village and township enterprises.
Well, without "Hu Kou", they are not allowed to live in the city. So they are bound to go home sooner or later. They lucky ones can marry to a city dweller, or go to college. There is no other way to permanently stay in a city.
Frank, I actually don't think those migrant workers are going back to their home regions. They have abandoned their home; They send the money they earn in big cities back home; their families left back home depend on their wages.
And a novel from the male worker perspective, though no translation yet.
Some reference at Marco-Economic Level:
Some reference at At personal level:
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