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Economy

Rural Chinese in no hurry to settle in cities after all

Relative value of urban residency declines to the surprise of 'hukou' reformers

| China
A farmer in China
Farmers toil near a residential construction site in Shanghai.   © Reuters

Some observers have associated China's hukou, or household registration system, with terms such as "apartheid" or "two-class society" because it divides the citizenry into two groups, urban and rural.

Under central planning, those with urban hukou were taken care of by the state from cradle to grave. Today urban hukou still convey eligibility for government jobs as well as subsidized housing, education and health care. Those with rural hukou have had access only to arable land as their main source of livelihood.

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