The Hukou (Household Registration) System 

Author: Sarah Bremer
Essential Question: How does the hukou system impact the ability of individuals to achieve the “Chinese dream”?
Summary: Through a role play based on members of a family featured in Rob Schmitz’s book Street of Eternal Happiness, students explore the ways that the household registration system, or “hukou” has affected the lives of a family from the rural province of Shandong. Implemented in 1958, this system requires every citizen of China to be registered with either a rural or urban hukou. Today, millions of Chinese citizens with rural hukou registration live as migrants in cities like Shanghai. Their hukou status, which is passed down through families and nearly impossible to change, prevents them from accessing public education, healthcare, pensions, and other services in the cities in which they live and work.
Grade Level: 9th-12th grades
Subject Areas: World history or AP Human Geography. Can also be adapted for English Language Arts classes.
Keywords: Household Registration, Rural/Urban Divide
Lesson Duration:   One 80-minute block period or two 45 minute periods
Published: April, 2019
Source: Lecture on “Neighbors” at the 1990 Institute Teachers Workshop in July 2018 by Robert Schmitz.


Lesson Plan :  Bremer-Hukou-System Lesson Plan


Accompanying Documents:

Bremer-Hukou-System Handout 1 – Timeline

Bremer-Hukou-Systerm Handout 2 – Role Cards


Rob Schmitz Talk

PPT from Talk (for download):  RobSchmitz-Neighbors-TW-2018.pdf



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