9 reasons why 90% are unwilling to give up their rural hukou

Sunday 31st August, 12:30 HKT

Earlier this month CASS released results of a survey which revealed over 90% of rural hukou* holders are unwilling to change it for a city hukou.

Topnews9 reports on 9 major reasons why this is the case:

1. Rural hukou holders have farming rights to land owned by the rural collective, and rights to build a house on the land. It’s for this reason, many university graduates still hold onto their rural hukous.
2. Hukou rural holders have rights to receive the profits from the local collective. Take for example Liangshan in Sichuan, where the residents received cash in hand, a share of 13 million yuan.

3. Poor folk’s lives can take a turn for the better as beneficiaries of resettlement projects. The continuous rise in land prices has made rural hukous more valuable. It’s not uncommon for a villager to become a ‘tuhao’ from land compensation.

4. The New Cooperative Medical Scheme in China. Although the proportional amount of medical expenses that can be claimed is less than city hukou holders, the rate is still high.

5. Some of the rural population have bought old-age pension schemes, especially men over the age of 45, and women over the age of 40. The government contributes 1/3 to the scheme, the village contributes another 1/3, and the final 1/3 is the pension holders contribution. So for the sake of paying just a small amount, men over the age of 60, and women over the age of 55, can enjoy a guaranteed monthly income. But the opposite is the case for unemployed city hukou holders, who must buy their own pension scheme.

6. If both parents hold rural hukous, and their first child is a daughter, the couple are allowed to have a second child (a concession in the one-child policy). If the family only has one child that’s a girl, or two daughters, they can receive government welfare.

7. In some areas, rural education is free.

8. Rural hukou holders can purchase property in the cities, but city hukou holders who buy property in rural areas, will not receive legal protection for property.

9. Currently rural hukou holders can enjoy various subsidies, including crop subsidies, agricultural machine subsidies, diesel subsidies etc.


Having travelled in rural China, I can think of more reasons why many people living in the countryside, would be unwilling to move to the city.

For example when speaking with the elder village members, it’s clear they wouldn’t be happy in the city. Many have grown up around the fields and mountains, and are accustomed to the village life. Some even admitted to being scared of traveling on planes, trains or even buses. Despite China’s rapid development in the past 30 years, life in the countryside, and the old ways and customs remain.

Secondly, for the younger generation, life in the cities is increasingly expensive. For those that would not be able to qualify for city hukous (which is still the majority), and don’t have university education, there’s less benefit to settling down long term in the city. The high cost of living, especially property prices, education and healthcare, will put too much pressure on young families.

*Hukou is the commonly used term for the Chinese ‘household registration system’, which is divided into two categories: rural and non-rural (city) hukous.

(Article not to be copied or reproduced without permission or citation).




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