“While there is significant variation across regions, within the cities and within the rural areas, the most significant inequality is between the urban and the rural” (Saich, 2011:316).
Introduction - Inequality in China
China, like anywhere else in the world, is not immune to the problems of inequality. Even though China has seen great economic growth over the past 20 years, the level of inequality has risen. The hukou system can be seen as a factor in creating inequality between citizens in China. This essay will look at the different types of inequalities that are faced by the Chinese people. There are many different types of inequalities in China, such as income, gender, ethnic, education and welfare inequalities, however this essay will look at the hukou, income and gender inequality that the Chinese people have to deal with in their everyday lives, as well as looking at what the Chinese people think about the rise in inequality.
The Chinese Hukou system, which limits people to work and live where they have been born and officially registered, can account for being responsible for a range of inequalities that are faced by the Chinese citizens, such as income, employment, education, and welfare and health. The Hukou seems to help these inequalities widen, as it treats those with a rural hukou as second class citizens. Afridi, Li, and Ren find in their 2012 Discussion Paper that the individual status that is linked with the Hukou that citizen possesses has a significant impact on their social identity. The rural-urban divide that is seen “in China is administratively created to control spatial labor mobility and reinforced through merely decades of differential treatment of rural-urban residents” (Afridi, et al, 2012: 2). Additionally, the urban Hukou comes with many benefits and entitlements that are not present with the rural Hukou, such as, “...Subsidized food and urban employment, which usually includes subsidised housing, healthcare, pension, and other benefits. In addition, an urban hukou entitles its holders to the subsidised education system, welfare programs, and community cultural activities. Rural residents have no such entitlements” (Liu, 2004: 136). “...migrant workers get low wages, work longer hours, live in inferior conditions, receive little social welfare support, and are often subject to discrimination and unjust treatment” (Jiang, 2009:16).
Although, the Hukou system has become more flexible now, people can move freely, they still face great inequalities. There seems to be a clash of opinion about the hukou system from those that hold the urban hukou and those that hold the rural hukou who live in the cities. “[A] Shanghai native...[has] been protesting online against proposed legislation that would allow migrant kids to stay in Shanghai and take their college entrance exams here. He says it would make life harder for his kids.” (PRI’s The World, 1st May 2013). A former city planner also hopes that the hukou...