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Resource allocation and Hukou status conversion : inequality under China's Hukou system

Date

2009-10-01

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Degree Level

Masters

Abstract

The Hukou system has been a basic institution in Chinese society for several decades. My thesis explores whether, after nearly 30 years of reform and opening up in China, this system still plays a role in individuals’ lives and if so, what is this role? This study uses qualitative data from policy documents and quantitative data from the China General Social Survey 2003 to examine differences in income and access to welfare services among rural and urban Hukou holders and in Hukou status conversion both before and since the reform era and point out that the Hukou system contributes to inequality in individuals’ life chances in two dimensions: resource allocation and Hukou status conversion. The findings show that urban residents are advantaged in resource allocation before and in the reform era; the control mechanism of “quota” and “policy” for Hukou status conversion from rural to urban in the pre-reform era was replaced by the locally defined but nationally enforced “entry conditions” or “requirements” in reform era. The talented people, the CCP members, the people who have permanent jobs in urban areas, and the people whose family members hold urban Hukou are more likely now to overcome the Hukou-based control. The Hukou-based migration control continues on a localized basis and excludes the majority of rural residents from access to the rights enjoyed by urban residents. The findings of this thesis indicate that the consequences of the Hukou system continue today and additional reform still needs to be introduced.

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Keywords

resource allocation, Hukou system, individual’s lives, Hukou status conversion, inequality

Citation

Degree

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Department

Sociology

Program

Sociology

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