Inequality Confounding Migrants to Access Compulsory Education: An Empirical Study on Implementation of Household Registration Policy in Beijing, China


Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


In wake of urbanization and economic transitions, the amount of floating population in China has been increasing consistently since late 1990s [1-3]. In particular, adult migrants hailing from remotely underdeveloped regions are keeping bouncing willingness to bring along children to migrant destinations in order to receive better quality of social services, such as education. However, in comparison with local residents, migrants with non-local household registration identity (hukou in Chinese) are struggled indefinitely in receiving educational
opportunity equally.

This study concentrates on compulsory educational inequality in terms of school enrolment rate to migrant students with non-local hukou identity who are eager to be members of public primary schools in Beijing, and carries out an critical examination as whether hukou policy still plays a pivotal role directly unbalancing opportunities between local and migrant students recruited by public primary schools in this captured city, which is technically regarded as the central research question of the study. Also, this study is supposed to look at whether other particular regulations at the meantime as derivatives of hukou policy diminish equal opportunities for migrants in terms of educational attainment.

The data employed were collected from first-hand materials by means of conducting semi-structured interviews and distributing surveys and second-hand documents including policy documents, governmental reports, press releases and literatures. There are three crucial findings emerged up after examinations:

1. Hukou policy is no longer directly unbalancing opportunities for students with difference hukou identities to sit in schools, its derivative named Five-certificate regulation (wuzheng in Chinese) has become an substitution

2. National College Entrance Exam (gaokao in Chinese) is another parameter in enrolment processes influencing educational choices that immigrant parents are going to make

3. In order to maximize chance to be treated fairly, majority of migrants have a behaviour of seeking social connections (guanxi in Chinese) to plough tracks for fields with better educational resources, although most of them came to nothing. This study, at the meantime, comes up with policy implication: government should take actions to diminish negative impacts of hindrances in process of hukou identity transitions both institutionally and practically.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSociology Insights
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2018


  • Migrants
  • Hukou
  • Population Mobility
  • Educational Inequality
  • School Enrolment Rate
  • Beijing


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