2.1.1. Influence Mechanism between Discrimination, Individual Aspiration and Performance
In this subsection, we will primarily illustrate how the hukou discrimination influences human performance by interfering their psychological aspirations or ambitions. The relationship between aspirations or ambitions and hukou discrimination in Chinese labour market was based on Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) and its related literature, which relies on SCCT to explore the association between racial discrimination and African American’s aspirations [8
]. SCCT provides a comprehensive understanding of how three aspects- (1) occupational interest establishment; (2) career performance and achievement; (3) occupational choice behaviour-interact with each other to determine individual career development [9
]. Three interacting variables, i.e., self-efficacy belief, outcome expectations and personal goals, provide the basic blocks of SCCT, which has been shown in Figure 1
Self-efficacy, which means personal confidence, indicates individuals’ self-assessment of their capabilities for specific task and activity [25
]. This self-evaluation by an individua of their capabilities (self-efficacy) depends on individuals’ previous attainments, working experience and affective status. Regarding the importance of self-efficacy, it contributes to career development by influencing individual occupational selection, resilience to setbacks, thinking methods, thinking angles, effort expenditure and perseverance [9
]. Unlike global confidence, self-efficacy is not a constant influential factor on career development but varies between different activities, tasks, occupations and circumstances [10
]. Specifically, an individual may respond with greater self-efficacy beliefs in maths but lower confidence in sociability; thereby he/she is also more likely to obtain more attractive achievements in this skilled expert area, i.e., maths.
Outcome expectation refers to an individual’s faith in terms of the probable outcomes of participating in one specific task or activity (i.e., what will happen if I participate in this particular task?) [11
]. In general, individuals are most likely to draw on advantages and avoid disadvantages; consequently, most people prefer to take part in the activities with greater rewards and more attractive welfare profits. Nevertheless, one’s occupational behaviours, such as participating in particular activities, effort expense and perseverance in confronting setbacks are influenced by their assessment of self-efficacy and potential outcome expectations simultaneously [25
]. In comparison, self-efficacy has a greater contribution to one’s career behaviour. Specifically, although an individual has an awareness that one task or activity will bring more attractive benefits, he/she will avoid participating in such activity due to a relative lack of confidence in a specific area.
Personal goals, one’s decision to take part in one specific task for obtaining certain achievements, are likely to help individuals to direct their performance effectively and persevere in the pursuit of particular goals, despite facing barriers. Following SCCT, self-efficacy, outcome expectations and personal goals do not exist independently but closely interact with each other. To be specific, the establishment of one’s personal goal is based on their evaluation of capabilities and potential outcomes from particular tasks. Conversely, the achievement of personal goals inversely contributes to and adjusts one’s assessment of abilities and outcome expectations, to some extent.
Self-efficacy belief, outcome expectations and personal goals play an essential role in the SCCT model to determine an individual’s development through an occupational interest, choice-making and performance achievement model as shown in Figure 1
]. Personal choice goals are more likely to be influenced by self-efficacy, outcome expectations and some external environmental variables. Individuals’ performance attainment is closely related to both ability and career motivation [26
]. Holding personal ability constant, people with higher self-efficacy (higher confidence) and more attractive outcome expectations are most likely to have higher aspirations for career development which in turn stimulate them to establish a higher personal goal in terms of income, position, type of work and so forth. As a result, people with higher self-efficacy tend to take more positive actions, such as employing their abilities and skills most efficiently and sustaining their efforts to overcome barriers for longer [26
]. These three factors, i.e., self-efficacy belief, outcome expectations and personal goals, help individuals to make better utilisation of their capabilities.
A significant body of research has investigated the underlying mechanism between workers’ psychological attitudes and associated market outcomes. Some contextual determinants, e.g., gender and racial-ethnic background also determine one’s aspirations, performance, personal attainment and development through influencing the motivational role of self-efficacy, outcome expectations and goal-setting [11
]. In addition, several studies have also found that disparity and discrimination increase the probability of an individual experiencing passive emotions and attitudes, which in turn negatively influences their performance and reduces their achievements [28
]. When a person has an awareness that he has encountered potential unfair treatment, he tends to become more sensitive, and less agreeable and conscientious [28
]. Such lack of conscientiousness can, to a certain degree, weaken individual motivation in attempting to fulfil social expectations and self-expectations, which is not conductive to their acquisition of favourable achievements. A lack of confidence among disadvantaged individuals negatively affects their willingness to learn and further their human capital investment, and also prevents them from obtaining satisfactory outcomes and better performance [29
When it comes to the scenario of Chinese labour force with different hukou status, hukou (household registration) as an external environmental variable established by Chinese public institutions may serve as an obstacle to the devalued group-migrants’ development (including rural-urban migrants in urban city and urban-urban migrants in non-local city). Following SCCT, such external hukou oppression in China directly influences migrants’ self-confidence in terms of their capability to perform (self-efficacy beliefs) and expectations of potential outcomes as shown in Figure 1
]. Specifically, these barriers that migrants realise themselves to suffer from are more likely to cause migrants to report lower self-efficacy belief and negative expectations for the outcome. Such passive attitudes may further restrict migrant’s aspirations regarding income, type of work, leadership position and welfare benefits. Based on the SCCT, migrants’ lower aspirations or ambitions can prevent them from setting appropriate goals when making career decisions. All the negative emotions mentioned above, such as lower self-efficacy beliefs, lower positive outcome expectations, lower aspiration or ambitions and unreasonable goals will influence migrants’ enthusiasm and motivation for work, which has been shown in Figure 1
. Thus, these migrants are more likely to take fewer positive actions to organise their abilities and skills efficiently in order to realise these goals [6
]. Correspondingly, they may attain fewer successes and achievements in comparison with their similarly talented counterparts with higher self-efficacy beliefs and more positive outcome expectations.
2.1.2. Define Sustainable Development
The general concept of sustainable development refers to the development that satisfies the requirements of present generation without sacrificing resources and opportunities of future generation [30
]. It assumes that all the activity related to development in terms of economic, social, environmental, technological and human development should not damage resources for continuing development and should remain for a long-term [34
]. There is a large amount of studies on sustainability, and the research fields on sustainable development vary from different subjects. Thus, some researchers state that it is necessary to point out the specific type of sustainability that is concentrated on as all the types of sustainable development are quite different even though each type has similarities and overlaps [32
]. Experts in different fields concern about different aspects of sustainability. Particularly, human sustainability mainly refers to the maintenance of human capital through continuous investment over a life-cycle, which includes investment in further job training, education, and nutrition [32
]. It is also closely related to social sustainability, as social sustainability aims to establish a favourable relationship between groups of people, realise reciprocity, patience, harmonies, cooperation spirit, forbearance, honesty and ethics [35
According to Figure 1
, our study intends to explore how the hukou discrimination determines individual’s human sustainable development through psychological impacts (SCCT), which further affects economic sustainable development of the entire society because economic development highly depends on the participation of human capital. Therefore, our research mainly concerns about the human sustainability and economic sustainability. Moreover, among the sustainable development goals which was proposed by United Nations (UN) in 2015, equality elimination, adult education (human sustainability), human employment and economic growth are the crucial goals for a society, confirming the importance of exploring human and economic sustainable development [34
In terms of how the impacts of hukou discrimination on individuals’ psychology and behaviour play a role to determine human and economic sustainable development further, we will elaborate in detail in the next subsection.
2.1.3. Linking Psychology with Sustainable Development
This subsection is to illustrate the further theoretical relationship between individuals’ negative psychology and behaviour which is influenced by external interference such as hukou discrimination (based on SCCT) and the sustainable development. This connection mainly relies on the human capital theory. According to human capital theory, personal productivity and performance depend on a series of human capital investments, including observable educational investment, further job training, working experience and several unobserved devotions, such as personal motivation, aspirations (or ambitions), effort and enthusiasm for work [36
]. In addition, as one of the important production factors, human capital serves as the basic building blocks of the economic development of enterprises, regions and even the whole country [41
]. In other words, the reasonable and optimised utilisation of human capital in labour market and the mobility of human resources will directly affect the economic development of organisations and regions.
In China, the negative impacts of hukou discrimination on personal aspirations, ambitions, setting rational goals, motivations and positive actions which is derived from SCCT will further influence sustainable development from two aspects. As shown in Figure 1
, these two aspects are personal performance or attainments which is ascribed to optimised utilisation of one’s capability and human sustainability, respectively.
With the relaxation of restrictions on human capital mobility, an increasing number of the labour force is attracted to those economically developed regions (e.g., southeast coastal cities in China). Chinese migrant workers already comprise approximately 22% of the whole Chinese population (Data source: China Statistical Yearbook 2018 from National Bureau of Statistics of the People’s Republic of China.), they play a critical role in determining urbanisation construction and stimulating China’s economic growth, especially in the economically developed regions. However, several economically underdeveloped areas are confronted with human capital lost meanwhile, such as the northeast and northwest regions of China. Such unbalanced distribution of human capital may exacerbate the spatial disparity in economic development among different China’s provinces [15
]. In those economically undeveloped areas, the continuous human capital lost may cause an increasingly serious shortage of available labour force, especially under the circumstance that the ageing issue of labour gradually becomes prominent with a low birth rate (Data source: National Bureau of Statistics of China.). Therefore, it is particularly important for the local economic sustainable development to optimise the utilisation of existing human capital in the case of human resource outflow. SCCT indicates that external barriers such as hukou discrimination may restrict disadvantaged individual’s productivity and performance through restraining their psychological aspirations, ambitions, enthusiasm and positive actions [8
]. Following human capital theory, such lower personal performance due to failure of optimising and maximising the utilisation of one’s abilities and talents will further affect the achievement of one organisation and the regional economic development. Such disparity in economic development for different regions considerably influences future sustainable economic development of the whole society [15
On the other hand, hukou discrimination may affect economic development through its impact on human sustainability as well. In economically developed regions such as first-tier cities and coastal areas in China, low-skilled migrants are less likely to obtain formal jobs which provide higher earnings, standard social security and welfare benefits [14
]. A large number of unskilled migrants perceive that they are discriminated against and have limited development prospects in the high human capital zones [44
]. Such awareness of discrimination and their lower aspirations for the prospective development, therefore, suppresses migrants’ motivations to invest further in their human capital, such as educational investments and subsequent job training [14
]. The abandonment of investment in one’s human capital is not conductive to human sustainability [32
], and this impediment to human capital investment from an economic perspective may result in a substantial waste of human talents. Due to the significance of human capital on economic development based on human capital theory, some researchers indicated that the elimination of such impediments of a migrant’s continuous investment in human capital (i.e., remaining human sustainability) is becoming more important in terms of sustaining Chinese economic growth [15