China's remarkable economic transition and capacity for dynamic growth has stunned the world. Throughout the period of economic reform, China has been moving towards the creation of a labour market. The scale of this transformation is unprecedented. New economic incentives, vast labour migration, draconian retrenchment of state workers, and sharply rising wage inequality are all characteristic of this unique transition. Drawing on more than a decade of survey-based research, the authors systematically document and analyse this important transformation. They use economic and sociological theory, institutional analysis and political economy to fully explain the causes, pressures, obstacles and consequences of the move towards a labour market in China. It is argued that much progress has been made towards the creation of a labour market but that the process is far from complete.