“National Civilized City” is a comprehensive honorary title reflecting the overall civilization level of the city, and it is the highest honor in the national evaluation of cities. A growing number of local governments have taken it as an important path to improve the city’s competitiveness, especially the competitiveness in agglomerating and reorganizing labors. In the context of the increasingly severe situation of labor supply, it is important to figure out whether city brand can improve the quality of city life and attract more migrants.
This paper takes “National Civilized City” as a quasi-natural experiment and investigates the impact of city brand on the probability of migrants’ location as well as the mechanism behind. Using data from the National Migrant Dynamics Monitoring Survey from 2013 to 2017, this paper constructs a dataset that contains individual migration decision, alternative city set and alternative city characteristics based on the results of PSM at the city level. It estimates the casual effect using the Conditional Logit Model, and the result shows that city brand has a significantly positive effect on the city’s migrant inflows. Specifically, after being awarded the title of “National Civilized City”, it will lead to a 1.13 percentage point increase in the probability of migrants moving to the city. The mechanism is that being awarded the title of “National Civilized City” can attract migrants by improving the quality of city life, such as public goods level, environmental quality and employment opportunities. Also, media coverage of this city will increase immediately after being awarded the title of “National Civilized City”. Specifically, after the list of “National Civilized City” is announced, the monthly information index of “National Civilized City” by each civilized city increases by 1.44 percentage point. Besides, the positive impact of “National Civilized City” is mainly concentrated among young people and groups with children. Finally, after flowing into “National Civilized City”, both the local enrollment probability of public medical insurance and the local enrollment probability of children will increase significantly, and migrants’ satisfaction with the city will be improved.
This paper contributes to two different strands of literature. First, it is related to exploring drivers of migrants’ job location choice. Second, it identifies the important role of media coverage in passing the signal from city brand to migrants, which broadens the research on the impact of product or corporate branding. Besides, the findings of this paper have implications for policy to agglomerate labors. Local governments need to fully understand the importance of city brand and shape the core-value of city brand by promoting people’s well-being. A reasonable usage of new media technologies to effectively strengthen city image publicity as well as the promotion of city brand are also helpful. Meanwhile, local governments should focus on improving the level of equalization of public services, so that both the welfare of migrants and social integration can be effectively improved.