Me and my coworkers take a cab. One of them recently became a father for a second time. The driver asks him:
“How much does it cost to have a second child in Shenzhen?”
Coworker: “220,000 Chinese Yuan (around 27,000 EUR or 40,000 USD).”
Driver: “Wow, that’s a considerable sum for a hukou*. We registered our second child back at home. 220,000 Yuan just for a hukou, now that’s being registered in Shenzhen not worth!”
Coworker: “Where are you from?”
Driver: “I’m from the countryside of Hunan. When we got our second child, we just needed to treat the people responsible to a nice dinner with enough drinks and give them presents, that was it. That’s how it works where I’m from. 220,000 is such an unbelievable sum.”
Coworker: “I’m from Hunan too. We also went back and gave birth to our second child there. But it’s still governed quite strictly, we had to pay 50,000 Chinese Yuan. Nevertheless, it’s much cheaper than Shenzhen. I’m from the Xiangtan area, really close to where Mao was born. They are quite strict about those things there. Anyways, nowadays a Shenzhen hukou isn’t as good as it was in the past. Today, a rural hukou can be even better than an urban one. You will sometimes get a subsidy you wouldn’t get in Shenzhen.”
*户口 (Hùkǒu) is the Chinese word for a record in the Chinese household registration system. In China, where you are registered will determine where you can go to school, get healthcare and much more or how much you will have to pay for these things if you aren’t registered in the city you’re living in.
What do you think about the one-child-policy and the hukou-system? I’d like to read your thoughts.