The Creation of China's Rural-Urban Divide

Guy Frederick Martin


This paper analyzes how the implementation of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) household registration (hukou) system in the 1950s has created material resource disparities between the urban and rural sectors that have persisted in the market reform economy. It examines hukou founding documents, urban population management laws, and pilot solutions to address structural inequities. It concludes with an analysis of current provincial and national government solutions seeking to bridge the rural-urban economic gap, notably the need to reform the hukou instrument to increase equitability and social stability. Although previous scholars have linked the PRC’s household registration laws to its socialist modernization economic platform, this project contributes to the field by linking that body of research with current scholarship on present-day welfare inequities in the Chinese state.


China; Hukou; Internal Migration; State Control


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