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Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine








Massive rural–urban temporary migration has taken place amid China's rapid economic growth and development. Much has been written about the economic causes and consequences of this massive migration; less studied are the potential health and behavioral impacts of migration on migrants. Using data from a population-based sample survey conducted in southwestern China, this paper examines the potential impact of rural–urban migration and post-migration urban living on migrants' mental health and sexual risk behavior. The results suggest that regardless of places of origin and destination temporary migrants had on average poorer mental health and riskier sexual behavior than non-migrants. Compared to living in rural areas, living in urban areas does not make statistical difference in residents' mental health; it is only marginally associated with riskier sexual behavior. Rural–urban temporary migrants' mental health and health risk sexual behavior deserve more immediate research attention. Both selectivity of temporary migrants and migration-induced psycho-socio-behavioral changes may have contributed to migrants' poorer mental health and riskier sexual behavior. However, more theory-driven research with longitudinal design is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn about the underlying mechanisms that mediate or moderate the impact of temporary migration on migrants' mental health and sexual risk behavior.


© 2013 Xiushi Yang.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author has been asserted.

Original Publication Citation

Yang, X. (2014). Rural–urban migration and mental and sexual health: a case study in Southwestern China. Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine, 2(1), 1-15.