Beijing news reported this week that police had caught a gang of sixteen, illegally selling Beijing hukous (residence permits), making total profits of 300 million yuan. Now in order to obtain a hukou, most applicants need to meet certain criteria, hence almost all of the 80 people who paid for the service, were graduates or post-graduates. Secondly, applicants must be ‘working’ at eligible companies, so the hukous obtained were via officials at state owned companies, who know a good rent seeking opportunity when they see one.
Unfortunately many white-collar workers are still desperate to get tier 1 city hukou as it means subsidised access to better schools and hospitals, or in the first place helps them find a spouse. For some families, it’s unacceptable for their offspring to marry a partner who doesn’t hold a city hukou.
So if you’re an ambitious and hard working graduate, who’s looking to catch Mr. or Mrs. Right, how much is this going to cost?
Whilst it’s difficult to obtain accurate data, it’s important to remember that prices are not just estimated on demand and supply basis. Factored into the price, is the money saved from free access to public services, that migrant workers from other provinces would otherwise have to pay, if they didn’t hold a city hukou.
Compiled from various Chinese media reports, the following are the average black market hukou prices, for tier 1 cities:
1. Shenzhen – 1,800,000
2. Shanghai – 600,00
3. Beijing – 500,000
4. Guangzhou – 100,000
Shenzhen ranks top, with a startling cost of 1.8 million yuan. The reason is due to the high cost of education and property in Shenzhen, where ambitious, forward thinking families hope to see their children one day entering a Hong Kong or foreign university.
Here’s the breakdown of economic benefits a Shenzhen hukou holder can enjoy:
Primary & Middle School: 20,000
Unemployment benefit: 23,000
Housing support: 1,600,000
Passport, HK & Macao travel pass: 1,500
In fact, out of all the cities in China, the new city of Shenzhen, lying on the border with Hong Kong, has the highest standard of living, and the most open, reform minded workforce. (So no coincidence then that chiecon is based here).
For more on hukou reform, which hopes to one day remove these rural-city barriers, see this chiecon post.
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