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Title: SARS and migrant workers in China: An institutional analysis
Authors: Biao, X. 
Issue Date: 2003
Citation: Biao, X. (2003). SARS and migrant workers in China: An institutional analysis. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal 12 (4) : 467-500. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The government and the public considered rural-urban migrant workers as the most problematic group during the SARS outbreak in China in early 2003. They feared that migrant workers were susceptible to the disease, tended to flee major cities where the early outbreaks occurred, and then spread the virus to the countryside where containing the disease would be difficult. This paper suggests that the links between the SARS outbreak and the migrants are far more complex and they must be understood in an institutional context. First, the paper argues that the migrants pose special challenges to the government in managing the outbreak not only because of their mobility, their low incomes or lack of health awareness, but also because they are outside the state's control and support system. Second, this paper suggests that the migrants fled the SARS-hit cities due to what I hypothesize as "chain reaction." The migrants' institutionally marginalized position rendered them vulnerable to the social and economic disruptions resulting from mass mobilization, which may have more social implications than their susceptibility to the virus. These two arguments reveal the problems stemming from the absence of appropriate institutional mechanisms, such as a universal medical care system, with respect to migrants. In view of increasing uncertainties in present times, it is imperative for the government to provide basic social security to migrant workers and to maintain economic stability.
Source Title: Asian and Pacific Migration Journal
ISSN: 01171968
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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