Handbook of Chinese Migration
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Handbook of Chinese Migration

Identity and Wellbeing

Edited by Iredale R. Robyn and Guo Fei

The recent unprecedented scale of Chinese migration has had far-reaching consequences. Within China, many villages have been drained of their young and most able workers, cities have been swamped by the ‘floating population’, and many rural migrants have been unable to integrate into urban society. Internationally, the Chinese have become increasingly more mobile. This Handbook provides a unique collection of new and original research on internal and international Chinese migration and its effects on the sense of belonging of migrants.
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Chapter 2: Five decades of the Chinese hukou system

Kam Wing Chan


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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