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What should economists know about the current Chinese hukou system?

Authors
Journal
China Economic Review
1043-951X
Publisher
Elsevier
Volume
29
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2014.04.012
Keywords
  • Hukou
  • Chinese Labor Market
  • Discrimination
  • Migration
  • Inequality
Disciplines
  • Economics
  • Political Science

Abstract

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.

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