Jin, L., Zhao, X. & Tong, Y. (2022) A female advantage? Gender patterning of psychological well-being among migrants and returnees in China. Journal of Social Issues, 78, 645– 668.

During recent decades, China has experienced large-scale rural-to-urban migration and a substantial proportion of the migrant population are women. Previous research has suggested that men and women may experience different gains and losses during the migration process and women may derive more psychological benefits than men. Moreover, the female advantage may concentrate in the married. Little quantitative research has systematically assessed these propositions. In this paper, we seek to the fill the gaps by assessing how migrants’ psychological well-being is influenced when gender intersects with marriage and the migration process, including both migrating out and moving back. We used random-intercept linear models to analyze data from a nationally representative survey of working-age adults. We found that during rural-to-urban migration, women fared better than men in terms of psychological well-being. The gender gaps in psychological well-being among migrants came to resemble that of the urbanites. The female advantage was particularly significant for those who were married. But the female advantage seemed to have disappeared when migrants returned to their sending communities. This study illustrates the heterogeneity in the impact of migration on psychological well-being and identifies groups that are vulnerable to the negative impact of migration who may benefit from targeted interventions.