Some refer to China’s hukou system as being similar to India’s caste system, segregating rural and urban residents and providing social benefits only to certain citizens. In July of 2014, after decades of rural-urban migration and economic expansion, Beijing put hukou on the national reform agenda. Instead of providing social benefits based solely on locale of origin and household registration, the state will consider criteria such as occupation, residence stability, length of residence time in city of concern, and social insurance contribution. While reform to the hukou system does not an end-all solution for rural-urban migrants, reform is a “small step in this direction.”
The primary principle of the reform is to stop differential treatment of citizens based on their rural or urban origins. Previously, officials could evict rural migrants for not having a proper permit. Now, the state is obligated to provide the same social welfare benefits to migrants or rural origins as to urban citizens. However, the Chinese government maintains a focus on population control. Specifically, the state encourages smaller sized cities to incentivize immigration, while discouraging large cities from attracting migrants. Many medium sized cities institute programs attracting skilled workers in lieu of none skilled workers.