Hukou, the Chinese for "household registration", gives an individual the legal right to live in a city and receive coinciding social benefits including medical treatment, social welfare, housing, children’s education, house，car purchase and even applying for a driver’s license. Without a city hukou, life is difficult. Non-local graduates are discriminated against because of hukou when hunting for jobs, as most potential employers are unable to give them a hukou. Some employers even say that students with a hukou usually have more credibility and are better developed in other ways in addition to their academic achievements. "Students with a local hukou only" has become a requirement in recruitment tests. Many top students are prevented from getting such a job simply because of the hukou.
Students are complaining about this overt discrimination in employment policy, but the outcry has not stopped the hukou restriction from being a common practice in job markets. Under these circumstances, graduates who are not locals have less and less jobs to choose from. Female graduates have even more difficulty as they are often discriminated against also because of their gender. Many choose to go back to their hometown even though the working environment is not as vibrant and competitive.
The hukou system restricts mobility and is abused in some cases. It greatly hurts migrant workers who experiences prejudice every day in many aspects. Many "Help Wanted" ads carry the precondition that applicants must have local "hukou". Moreover, the hukou system is the last obstacle to achieving equal schooling rights for migrant workers’ children. Some public schools do not accept students who do not have hukou. Others accept them on the condition that they pay higher fees.
I believe that the hukou system will disappear only when the country’s vast countryside and small towns are as economically comfortable as big cities and people do not need to move around so much. Although we cannot just suddenly halt this system, which has been around for decades, we can at least make some changes so we can guarantee that people, no matter where they were born, can be treated the same across the country.