Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Asian Studies

First Advisor

Dean Xiangming Chen


The hukou system, also known as the Household Registration System, has had a significant impact on China’s social, political, and economic trajectory since the time of its implementation in 1958. Specifically, it has helped to create the societal-wide imbalance between the prosperous coastal cities along the eastern seaboard and the lagging rural countryside of China’s interior provinces, where a second class group of citizens has emerged. As a result, the central government has strategically begun to increase the minimum wage nation-wide, as evidenced by the 12th Five Year Plan. The repercussions of this are potentially enormous, not only for low-paid workers in China but also for world-wide consumers of Chinese products and competing producers. This paper delves into this topic and speculates on both the positive and negative implications of an increased minimum wage moving forward. Furthermore, this paper speculates on the future of the hukou system. Is the hukou system too deeply rooted in society, or will an increased minimum wage lead to the erosion of the system?


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies.