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According to migration theories, the economic crisis and recession should have made it harder to find a job and would therefore have depressed migration — particularly in relation to low-skilled would-be immigrants. Yet Shanghai’s situation during the Great Depression was quite the opposite. Despite the crisis and severe unemployment, more than one million migrants flooded into Shanghai during this period, mainly poorly-educated and low- skilled rural migrants. Previous studies on The Great Depression focused on Western countries, largely ignoring China and the crisis’ impact on migratory flows. This research is one of the first to ascertain the impact of the The Great Depression on China’s labour market by analysing employment and real wages, and try to reveal the reason for ongoing immigration to Shanghai during the crisis. Based on the labour statistics in Shanghai (1930-1937) and households survey conducted by the Shanghai Social Affairs Bureau, the research has analysed the changes in occupation and workers’ wage levels in Shanghai. These empirical results reveal that the demand for workers continued to grow and real wages, far from declining, showed slow growth. This was the fundamental reason why migrants continued to pour into Shanghai during the crisis. The Great Depression affected China’s economy and labour market in different ways from those in Western countries. The nation’s use of The Silver Standard and its sufficient money supply meant that China was spared the banking crises that brought Western nations to their knees. This in turn meant that investment and liquidity kept pace with industry’s needs. The impact of the crisis on labour-intensive industries led to sizeable lay-offs. However, these were concentrated in relatively few sectors. The problem was overcome because there was considerable overall demand for labour.

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(Spain) 11039
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