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Graduates Prefer Hukou over High Salary
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In a survey by China Youth Daily last week, 67.8 percent believe a Beijing hukou or registered permanent residence is worth at least 100,000 yuan. Some 14.6 percent thought it should be worth 200,000 yuan.

A questionnaire asked 3,000 fresh graduates if they were given the choice of an annual salary of 100,000 yuan or Beijing Hukou, most chose the latter.

The hukou system is the central government's method of managing urban population. Registered permanent residence allows people to live, work and study in a specific city, but makes living in another city difficult.

In the survey, 77.1 percent said they would choose a job if the offer included applying for hukou; while 11.1 percent considered the hukou the deciding factor. In an online forum among students at Peking University, one student said a Beijing Hukou is worth about 100,000 to 200,000 yuan, making getting the residence permit even more crucial for those whose monthly salary are 2,000 to 3,000 yuan. But for a person with a high monthly salary of over 20,000 yuan, getting a hukou is not an issue.

"I will choose getting a hukou over a high salary," said a graduate student in Renmin University. “I have lived in Beijing for seven years. I have a sense of belonging to here.” She said she'd rather seize the chance to get a hukou than have a higher salary.

In the survey, 38.9 percent thought having a hukou will give them a sense of security and belonging. Graduates and students generally consider the Beijing hukou an important qualification in finding a spouse. "I will find a boyfriend with a Beijing Hukou, as long term, it help me avoid many worries."

A hukou is valuable because it is tied to many social benefits. “With a Beijing Hukou, you can buy affordable housing and apply for public accumulation funds for housing, enjoy relatively high endowment insurance, and your child will have a wider chance to enter a good university with a relatively lower score," A participant in the survey said.

In 1953, the central government began imposing limits on free migration to the cities to relieve the pressure of population growth and employment in urban areas. In 1984, the State Council implemented a rule which allowed some residents in countryside who had stable job in city to apply for a permanent urban residence permit.

But now the public hopes the hukou system will be reformed, and it was the focus of the NPC and CPPCC sessions. A participant in the survey said, "The talk about reforming the hukou blossoms every year in two sessions, but we are still waiting for its fruit."

(CRI April 22, 2008)

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