Vocational status and living conditions are key factors that determine the quality of life of workers. In light of a rural–urban migration wave during the past decade, this study examined migrants’ experiences of occupational and housing inequality in major urban centers. Based on data from original household-level surveys conducted in four large cities, the study investigated the vocational and tenurial situations of different social groups. Estimates obtained using a binary logistic model indicated that apart from socioeconomic factors similar to those impacting Western societies, specific institutional factors such as the Hukou system, state-associated vocations, and residential status, were significant determinants of housing inequality. The study confirmed that there were significant disparities in the vocational status and housing conditions of urban residents and migrant workers in major Chinese cities. Along with excessive privatization of urban housing, the predominance of the Hukou urban housing system has created inequalities in employment, and in the housing market, in major Chinese urban centers, leading to housing poverty among migrant households.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
The Hukou (household registration) system was promulgated in China through the 1958 Hukou regulation (Hukou dengji tiaoli). Hukou is a system of identification requiring every citizen to be registered at the place of his or her birth, the place to which he or she is permitted to move, or his or her mother’s place of registration. It divides Chinese citizens into two major categories: agricultural and non-agricultural residents. See Guo and Iredale (2004) for a detailed discussion on this subject.
Permanent immigrants are individuals who have received official permission to change their registration from their place of origin to their place of relocation. By contrast, temporary migrants are individuals who have not changed their place of registration, even though they are living elsewhere for periods extending from a few days to several days or more (Chan 2010).
See the official document of the Government of Offices Administration of the State Council: http://www.ggj.gov.cn/xzsp/200912/t20091230_269559.htm.
Over a long period of time extending from the Mao era to present-day China, the Hukou system has been the standard tool for stratifying urban residents. Kam Wing Chan (1996) has described China’s stratified urban structure as a “two-class urban society”.
Chan, K. W. (1996). Post-Mao China: A two-class urban society in the making. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 20(1), 134–150.
Chan, K. W. (2010). The global financial crisis and migrant workers in China: ‘There is no future as a labourer; returning to the village has no meaning’. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 34(3), 659–677.
Chen, J., Guo, F., & Wu, Y. (2011a). One decade of urban housing reform in China: Urban housing price dynamics and the role of migration and urbanization, 1995–2005. Habitat International, 35(1), 1–8.
Chen, J., Guo, F., & Wu, Y. (2011b). Chinese urbanization and urban housing growth since the mid-1990s. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 26(2), 219–232.
Clark, W. A. V., & Dieleman, F. M. (1996). Households and housing: Choice and outcomes in the housing market. New Brunswick: Center for Urban Policy Research, the State University of New Jersey.
Dynarski, M. (1985). Housing demand and disequilibrium. Journal of Urban Economics, 17, 42–57.
Fu, Y., Tse, D. K., & Zhou, N. (2000). Housing choice behavior of urban workers in China’s transition to a housing market. Journal of Urban Economics, 47(1), 61–87.
Guo, F., & Iredale, R. (2004). The impact of Hukou status on migrants’ employment: Findings from the 1997 Beijing migrant census. International Migration Review, 38(2), 709–731.
Hausman, J., & McFadden, D. (1984). Specification tests for the multinominal logit model. Econometrica, 52(5), 1219–1240.
Henderson, J. V., & Ioannides, Y. M. (1983). A model of housing tenure choice. American Economic Review, 73(1), 98–113.
Hiroshi, S. (2006). Housing inequality and housing poverty in urban China in the late 1990s. China Economic Review, 17(1), 37–50.
Huang, Y., & Clark, W. A. V. (2002). Housing tenure choice in transitional urban China: A multilevel analysis. Urban Studies, 39(1), 7–32.
Huang, Y., & Jiang, L. (2009). Housing inequality in transitional Beijing. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 33(4), 936–956.
Ioannides, Y. M. (1979). Temporal risks and the tenure decision in housing markets. Economics Letters, 4(3), 293–297.
Kennedy, P. (1998). A guide to econometrics (4th ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Lee, J. (2000). From welfare housing to home ownership: The dilemma of China’s housing reform. Housing Studies, 15, 61–76.
Li, S., & Li, L. (2006). Life course and housing tenure change in urban China: A study of Guangzhou. Housing Studies, 21(5), 653–670.
Lux, M., Sunega, P., & Katrňák, T. (2013). Classes and castles: Impact of social stratification on housing inequality in post-socialist states. European Sociological Review, 29(2), 274–288.
Wang, Y. P., & Murie, A. (1999). Commercial housing development in urban China. Urban Studies, 36(9), 1475–1494.
Wu, F. (2001). Housing provision under globalisation: A case study of Shanghai. Environment and Planning A, 33, 1741–1764.
Yi, C., & Huang, Y. (2014). Housing consumption and housing inequality in Chinese cities during the first decade of the twenty-first century. Housing Studies, 29(2), 291–311.
Zhao, Y.-H. (2002). Causes and consequences of return migration: Recent evidence from China. Journal of Comparative Economics, 30(2), 376–394.
The authors would like to thank the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71473283), and Beijing Municipal Social Science Foundation (14JGB078).
About this article
Cite this article
Chen, J., Wu, Y. & Li, H. Vocational Status, Hukou and Housing Migrants in the New Century: Evidence from a Multi-city Study of Housing Inequality. Soc Indic Res 139, 309–325 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-017-1562-z
- Vocational status
- Housing inequality