Chapter 2 Evolution, status, and reform of hukou
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In China, the household registration (hukou) system has evolved for more than sixty years. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China (hereafter, PRC) and the implementation of the planned economy, China’s population management system had distinctive features highly integrated with social identity, social order, and economic policy. It remains a government tool for implementing social control by embedding population management within the political and economic system (Zhao, 2004). However, the functions of the population management system far exceed the domain of population migration control (Cheng and Selden, 1994; Chan and Zhang, 1999). As a national policy, the hukou system originally played the role of allocating spatial resources and other welfare for urban and rural populations. Hukou management was relaxed after reform and opening up, but it has continued to be a major factor influencing population migration between urban and rural areas. The hukou system has been closely connected with the urbanization process, and discussions about China’s urbanization typically involve the impact of the hukou system (Cheng, 1991; Chan, 1994; Mallee, 1995; Zhu, 1999; Zhang, 2004; Wang, 2005; PRC, 2014).

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