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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Household Registration System and Social Stratification in China: 1955-1996

  • Author(s): Wu, Xiaogang
  • Treiman, Donald J.
  • et al.

The Chinese household registration system (hukou), which divides the population into “agricultural” and “non-agricultural” sectors, may be the most important determinant of differential privilege in state socialist China, determining access to good jobs, education for one’s children, housing, and health care, and (formally, although no longer in practice) even the right to move to a city. Hukou mobility, with its attendant consequences for life chances, is difficult to accomplish. Using data from a 1996 national probability sample, we show that education and communist party membership are the main determinants of such mobility.

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