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Soc Sci Res. 2013 Jan;42(1):71-89. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2012.08.004. Epub 2012 Aug 23.

Social origins, hukou conversion, and the wellbeing of urban residents in contemporary China.

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  • 1Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Electronic address:


This paper examines the determinants and consequences of rural to urban registration (hukou) mobility in contemporary China, focusing on the link between social origins, hukou conversion, and the consequences of conversion. In contrast to massive rural-urban migration, hukou conversion is difficult and rare, but childhood urban residence increases the likelihood of achieving an urban hukou. Compared to people with urban origins, hukou converters are more likely to enter tertiary institutions, but are significantly less likely to do so subsequent to hukou conversion. Individual converters from rural origins are more likely to work in non-manual occupations. Collective converters earn significantly less than people with urban origins. Individual converters with rural childhoods, who used to be at the bottom of the society, are significantly happier than other urban residents, although they are less healthy. These results show that the effect of hukou conversion varies across hukou converters from different social origins.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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