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What should economists know about the current Chinese hukou system?

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  • Song, Yang

Abstract

This article explains the current hukou system in China and provides the most recent evidence on the impact of the hukou system on the Chinese labor market and economy. By a comprehensive literature survey, this paper shows that the hukou system plays in two major roles in current China. First, workers with different hukou face different costs of living in cities and have different access to government-provided public services and welfare programs in the urban areas. Migrants with rural and non-local hukou working in the Chinese big cities have no or little access to welfare programs provided by local city governments. Second, there exists labor market discrimination against rural hukou holders in cities, especially in the urban high-wage sector such as state-owned enterprises. The current hukou system has a negative impact on rural-to-urban migration in China as well as on economic efficiency and equality by reducing the expected benefits associated with migration.

Suggested Citation

  • Song, Yang, 2014. "What should economists know about the current Chinese hukou system?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 200-212.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:29:y:2014:i:c:p:200-212
    DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2014.04.012
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Hukou; Chinese labor market; Discrimination; Migration; Inequality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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