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Barriers to the acquisition of urban hukou in Chinese cities


  • Li Zhang
  • Li Tao


The hukou system is one of the most enduring legacies of the 20th-century Chinese socialist control instruments. The hukou in the Chinese context is an official identity of residency rights in a given geographic unit. Cities use the hukou policy to impede the urban hukou of migrants who are deemed unworthy in terms of socioeconomic attributes. Based on policy documents and data collected from forty-five sample cities, this paper offers statistical measures and explanations for barriers to urban hukou nationwide. The paper introduces the city’s entry barrier (CEB) index to rank the degree of difficulty of acquiring urban hukou and performs factor analysis to identify the key determinants that significantly explain the various levels of the CEB index across cities. Our empirical findings suggest that a more developed city tends to develop a higher entry barrier to its hukou. The intention of city governments to impose barriers to urban hukou is enshrined largely in their progrowth mentality and their metaphors on the political economy of urbanization. Keywords: urban hukou, urban citizenship, the city’s entry barrier, urbanization, rural-to-urban migration

Suggested Citation

  • Li Zhang & Li Tao, 2012. "Barriers to the acquisition of urban hukou in Chinese cities," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 44(12), pages 2883-2900, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:44:y:2012:i:12:p:2883-2900

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:energy:v:130:y:2017:i:c:p:365-372 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Song, Yang, 2014. "What should economists know about the current Chinese hukou system?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 200-212.
    3. repec:eee:chieco:v:44:y:2017:i:c:p:112-124 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Yan Wei & Li Zhang, 2016. "Understanding Hypergamous Marriages of Chinese Rural Women," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 35(6), pages 877-898, December.
    5. Vahan Sargsyan, 2015. "Differential Treatment in the Chinese Labor Market. Is Hukou Type the Only Problem?," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp548, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.

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