The household registration system and social stratification in China: 1955-1996

Demography. 2004 May;41(2):363-84. doi: 10.1353/dem.2004.0010.


The Chinese household registration system (hukou), which divides the population into "agricultural" and "nonagricultural" sectors, may be the most important determinant of differential privileges in state socialist China, determining access to good jobs, education for one's children, housing, health care, and even the right to move to a city. Transforming one's hukou status from rural to urban is a central aspect of upward social mobility. Using data from a 1996 national probability sample, we show that education and membership in the Chinese Communist Party are the main determinants of such mobility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emigration and Immigration / trends
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Political Systems
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Population / trends
  • Social Class*
  • Social Mobility / trends
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Population / trends