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Rural Migrant Workers in China

There are an estimated 262 million rural migrant workers in China. They have been the engine of China s spectacular economic growth over the last two decades but, because of the household registration system, they are still marginalized and discriminated against. Their children have limited access to education and healthcare and can be separated from their parents for years on end.Urbanisation and the household registration system:In 1958, the Chinese government formally reintroduced the household registration (Hukou b7S„) system. Household registers had been used by Chinese authorities for millennia to facilitate taxation and control migration. This new hukou system was designed by the Communist government with three main purposes in mind: government welfare and resource distribution, internal migration control and criminal surveillance. Each town and city issued its own hukou, which entitled only its registered residents access to social welfare services in that jurisdiction. Individuals were broadly categorised as "rural" or "urban" based on their place of residence. Moreover, the hukou was hereditary: children whose parents held a rural hukou would also have a rural hukou irrespective of their place of birth.

Source China Labour Bulletin article on migrant workers in China, June 2013.
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