Experts: hukou system is unfair to farmers

08:10, November 04, 2010      

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China's urbanization would be set back if the government does not reform the hukou (household registration) system, experts said.

"With 1 percent annual growth in the number of people moving to cities from rural areas, China's urbanization rate will reach 60 percent in 12 years. But I am afraid the country would take some 25 years to achieve that rate with all the discriminatory restrictions against farmers," said Wang Chunguang, a social mobility researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

China's urban areas held 45.6 percent of the country's population at the end of 2008, 44.9 points higher than the figure in 1976, according to a report released in early October by the Institute of Finance and Trade Economics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The report also described current urbanization as "incomplete", because members of the floating population, which refers to people working outside their hukou registration places, were not entitled to the same amount of benefits as local residents.

Wang Chunguang said that most members of the floating population are excluded from social benefits enjoyed by local residents, such as buying low-income housing, voting in city elections and having their children go to public high schools in the city.

Wang Jian, a micro-economic expert with the National Development and Reform Commission, also said that the urban population had grown too quickly.

"We will still need huge input to cover them with social benefits," Wang Jian told the Beijing-based Caijing magazine.

According to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, China had 229.87 million migrant workers by the end of 2009, accounting for more than one-third of the urban population in China.

The latest report by the China Development Research Foundation showed that if the government put in 2 trillion yuan a year to give non-agricultural residencies to 20 million migrant workers, it will take 20 years to include all migrant workers.

In August, the Shandong provincial government took over the housing sites of residents in 1,249 villages. The villagers were relocated to centralized residential zones far from their field land, but were not given new jobs or social insurance, Guangzhou Daily reported.

Similar policies were also under way in Shaoxing in Zhejiang province, Wuhan in Hubei province and Changsha in Hunan province.

Recent research disclosed by the All-China Women's Federation revealed that land expropriation was the reason for 58.9 percent of female and 50.9 percent of male farmers losing their land. And 30 percent said their living quality decreased after their land was taken over.

By Cheng Yingqi, China Daily


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