China’s Urbanization: Hukou Reforms and Social Justice

Issue & Policy Briefs December, 2020, pp. 8


This paper explores the socio-economic impacts of the Household Registration System (Hukou) and the delicate interplay between migration policies and urban development in China. Despite several rounds of relaxation in recent years, the system has exacerbated socio-economic inequalities between the rural and urban population, generating a dual society that prevents the full integration of rural migrant workers in the cities. The legacy of this system poses major obstacles to Beijing’s new development priorities, in particular achieving inclusive and sustainable urbanization. While current efforts to reform the Hukou have made some positive advances, policy changes aiming at restructuring other key administrative structures are necessary to achieve a real “citizenization” of Chinese migrant workers.

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