Ziwei Qi

Date of Award

January 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Martin Gottschalk


China has experienced massive internal migration in the past three decades. The rapidly growing urban population, especially the rural to urban migrant population, is the primary social concern with respect to public health and social stability that China is facing in recent decades. Both the public and private sectors have hastened to respond to the emerging needs of this socially, economically and politically marginalized group. In the current dissertation, the author utilizes judicial decisions from the Intermediate Level Courts in the Guangdong province, China, in order to examine the characteristics of rural migrant offenders, and to explore the relationship between rural migration and crime. The current study shows that rural migrants are overrepresented in the criminal defendant population in the Intermediate level of courts. Compared to urban offenders, rural migrant offenders are disproportionately represented as offenders who have committed typical street crimes. Rural migrant offenders are predominantly undereducated and underemployed at the time of offenses, and they have received relatively harsher fixed term sentences for the same type of offense compared to urban offenders. Theoretical interpretations and implications of the study’s findings are discussed.