Identity and Wellbeing
Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by Iredale R. Robyn and Guo Fei
Chapter 2: Five decades of the Chinese hukou system
This paper presents a retrospective analysis of China’s hukou (household registration) system in the last five decades since its promulgation, reviewing the history of that system from a broad socio-political perspective. More specifically, the paper focuses on revealing trends in the development of the system over time and identifying many of its important ramifications for modern Chinese society, as well as on the impact of hukou on the country’s industrialization, urbanization, rural–urban migration, and social and spatial stratification. The author argues that the hukou system now presents a major obstacle to China’s quest to become a modern, First World nation and global leader.
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