China said it would grant household registrations to millions of people who had lived on the margins of society as part of efforts to overhaul a decades-old system that was designed to curb rural migration to overcrowded cities.
The move, announced late Wednesday, is intended to address social inequities and spur population and economic growth, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The registration system, known as hukou, has been blamed for aggravating social inequality because rural migrants live as second-class citizens in urban areas and are cut off from social welfare, the newspaper said.
The system has become outdated as Beijing pushes the bulk of its nearly 1.4 billion people to move to cities to help spur development.
“This is a critical step for China to modernize China’s political system as it now recognizes hukou as every citizen’s basic right,” said Cai Yong, a demographer and sociologist professor at the University of North Carolina.
The hukou system, which dates to the 1950s, links benefits like health care and pensions to a person’s place of birth.
Without a hukou, citizens can’t legally register for school, get married, open a bank account or access health insurance, the Journal said.
The new policy could benefit some 13 million people who lack a hukou, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
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