In what ways does the growth of the wage economy in China need to be understood in the context of the changing agricultural economy? At its most simplistic, the movement of rural people into urban wage positions is portrayed as rural people's desire to seek better opportunities and higher standards of living available in urban centers.

The essays in this chapter take a deeper look at the state of the rural economy and how it has been changing in the reform period. They explore the thesis that migration is as much a response to complex changes in the agricultural economy as it is a reflection of a desire for upward mobility. They also examine changes in the division of labor and resources that are resulting from the exodus of wage seekers.

The main essays in this section rely on the method of household surveys to gauge the importance of wage labor and agricultural production to rural people. In addition, we also profile the techniques of rural production so that readers might gain a deeper appreciation for the texture of rural work, the hardships people endure, and the high degree of refinement in their productive arts.