This book is the first comprehensive examination of China’s hukou (household registration) system. The hukou system registers and governs the 1.3 billion Chinese, while creating deep and rigid divisions and exclusions; in many domains the system determines how the Chinese live and shapes China’s sociopolitical structure and socioeconomic development. This book shows that the system has made both positive and negative contributions to contemporary Chinese society: it has helped foster rapid economic growth and political stability, but also has reinforced social stratification, the rural-urban divide, regional inequalities, and discrimination and injustice.
Using rich new materials, this book traces the history and development of the hukou system. It describes the functions, impact, and operational mechanisms of the system. It also analyzes the hukou in comparison with the systems of exclusion and discrimination in other nations, notably Brazil and India. This book presents important insights for understanding China’s past, present, and future.