- Press Release Distribution

UW geographer devises a way for China to resolve its 'immigration' dilemma

( University of Washington geographer Kam Wing Chan is in China this week, explaining how that country can dismantle its 55-year-old system that limits rural laborers from moving to and settling in cities and qualifying for basic social benefits.

It's an idea that he says makes economic and moral sense.

China's "hukou" household registration system was established in 1958 as a way of maintaining cheap farm labor to grow food for urban dwellers. Ever since, rural residents wanting to move to urban areas must receive permission from the police – and with it, the right to benefits such as unemployment, retirement, even education in the city.

That hasn't stopped millions of peasants from moving to cities in the last two decades, but those migrant workers remain stuck in low-paying service or factory jobs with no benefits and little hope of advancement. The same is true for their children, since hukou (pronounced "who-koe") status is hereditary.

Chan is in Beijing as a featured speaker at the prestigious Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Forum on Economics. His presentation on Friday is called "A Roadmap for Reforming the Hukou System."

"China, of course, is the world's factory, because China can produce cheap stuff with its vast army of cheap labor. And that cheap labor is related to the hukou system," Chan said. "Without that system, there would be no China that we know today. That cheap labor helped catapult China into a leading giant of manufacturing."

But, Chan argues, the hukou system is also holding the country back economically in the longer term. That's because China has millions of people who want to move out of poverty and into the middle class so they can spend money on better housing and consumer goods, which in turn would help rebalance the economy. China has been trying to move toward a more sustainable consumer-based economy, away from excessive reliance on investment and exports.

"This is something I think is of great importance not only to China, but to the global economy," Chan said. "I'm promoting gradual, constructive reform, and I'm cautiously optimistic."

Chan was born in a village in China but as a baby left with his family for the city just before hukou effectively shut the door. He said the Chinese government wants to reform the hukou system but hasn't yet decided how to change the household registration status of an estimated 230 million rural migrants currently living in urban areas. Chan said it is likely that number will reach more than 300 million by 2030.

After writing news articles about the problem for several years, Chan now has what he believes is an achievable 15-year plan to change the residential status of 20 million people each year from 2015 to 2030. He recently laid out that plan in an article for Caixin, a major media conglomerate that covers Chinese financial and business news.

He believes China can first focus on young college graduates, who will pay more taxes into the social welfare system than they take out in the 15-year plan period. That will help pay for some of the costs of reform. Skilled workers would make up the second phase, and low-skilled workers would be the third phase. He suggests that the first two phases would take about five to six years, with the main focus on the third phase, covering about 10 years.

Chan says others have proposed more radical reform plans over a much shorter time frame, but he believes they are too fast and would overwhelm the system, both logistically and financially.

One major roadblock to hukou reform is the perceived cost. Many Chinese government officials think that rural peasants will overrun the social services system, taking money out, rather than paying into it. While that may be true of the small group of the poorest migrants, Chan believes the majority of migrant workers is young and productive and can "finance" their social security through taxes, and voluntary and involuntary contributions in the longer run. At the same time, this gradual reform program will help China produce more consumers to drive the economy.

Another issue is that the central government sets hukou reform policy, but local governments are left to enforce it and deal with the financial costs.

Chan sees some interesting parallels in the discussions on China's hukou reform and the United States' immigration reform. Quoting a handful of studies showing that allowing illegal immigrants a path to citizenship will bring in more taxes and boost the U.S. economy, he sees that similar arguments can be made for China's hukou reform.

While Chan makes a case for reform from an economic standpoint, "I'm also trying to point out that there is perhaps a moral argument out there; everybody should be treated the same," he said. "We need to move more toward social justice."

He had planned to write a book in English about China's urbanization and hukou when a Chinese publisher recently asked him to write a book in Chinese.

"I am trying to turn my research into something that may benefit people. I am helping Americans understand the hukou system and maybe coming up with ideas that the Chinese government hasn't thought about yet."

### For more information, contact Chan at


Warming climate pushes plants up the mountain

In a rare opportunity to directly compare plant communities in the same area now with a survey taken 50 years ago, a University of Arizona-led research team has provided the first on-the-ground evidence that Southwestern plants are being pushed to higher elevations by an increasingly warmer and drier climate. The findings confirm that previous hypotheses are correct in their prediction that mountain communities in the Southwest will be strongly impacted by an increasingly warmer and drier climate, and that the area is already experiencing rapid vegetation change. In ...

How neurons get wired

University of Arizona scientists have discovered an unknown mechanism that establishes polarity in developing nerve cells. Understanding how nerve cells make connections is an important step in developing cures for nerve damage resulting from spinal cord injuries or neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. In a study published on Aug. 12 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, UA doctoral student Sara Parker and her adviser, assistant professor of cellular and molecular medicine Sourav Ghosh, report that the decision which will be the "plus" ...

Researchers study selenium's effects on horses

For a new study in the Journal of Animal Science, researchers evaluated how different levels of selenium affect the immune system of adult horses. According to the researchers, the effects of selenium supplementation on the immune system have been evaluated in other species but not extensively in horses. Dr. Laurie Lawrence, animal science professor at the University of Kentucky, said the amount of selenium in soil and forages varies across the United States. She said that they wanted to know whether horses grazing pasture that was marginal in selenium would react differently ...

Many neurologists unaware of safety risks related to anti-epilepsy drugs

A study by Johns Hopkins researchers shows that a fifth of U.S. neurologists appear unaware of serious drug safety risks associated with various anti-epilepsy drugs, potentially jeopardizing the health of patients who could be just as effectively treated with safer alternative medications. The findings suggest that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs a better way to communicate information to specialists about newly discovered safety risks, the researchers say, since the warnings are in many cases not getting through to doctors making important prescribing decisions. ...

Around the world in 4 days: NASA tracks Chelyabinsk meteor plume

Atmospheric physicist Nick Gorkavyi missed witnessing an event of the century last winter when a meteor exploded over his hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia. From Greenbelt, Md., however, NASA's Gorkavyi and colleagues witnessed a never-before-seen view of the atmospheric aftermath of the explosion. Shortly after dawn on Feb. 15, 2013, the meteor, or bolide, measuring 59 feet (18 meters) across and weighing 11,000 metric tons, screamed into Earth's atmosphere at 41,600 mph (18.6 kilometers per second). Burning from the friction with Earth's thin air, the space rock exploded ...

Current therapies less effective than expected in preventing lung injuries in very premature babies

A neonatologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is the senior author of a large new study that found that current non-invasive techniques for respiratory support are less effective than widely assumed, in reducing the incidence of severe lung injury in very premature infants. Neonatologists commonly use non-invasive nasal ventilation instead of mechanical ventilation via a breathing tube, in hopes of avoiding bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). Frequently a by-product of intubation, BPD--scarring and inflammation of the lungs--is a leading cause of death or neurological ...

In nonsmoking women, breastfeeding for more than 6 months may protect against breast cancer

A new analysis has found that breastfeeding for more than six months may safeguard nonsmoking mothers against breast cancer. The same does not seem to hold true for smoking mothers, though. Published early online in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, the findings add to the list of benefits of breastfeeding for women and their babies. To look at the relationship between breast cancer and certain aspects of pregnancy and breastfeeding, Emilio González-Jiménez, PhD, of the University of Granada in Spain, and his colleagues analyzed the medical records of 504 female patients ...

Exercise is no quick cure for insomnia

CHICAGO --- Exercise is a common prescription for insomnia. But spending 45 minutes on the treadmill one day won't translate into better sleep that night, according to new Northwestern Medicine® research. "If you have insomnia you won't exercise yourself into sleep right away," said lead study author Kelly Glazer Baron, a clinical psychologist and director of the behavioral sleep program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "It's a long-term relationship. You have to keep at it and not get discouraged." This is the first long-term study to show ...

Study examines risk of severe blood sugar swings among diabetics taking fluoroquinolones

[EMARGOED UNTIL THURSDAY, AUG. 15] Diabetic patients taking oral fluoroquinolones, a frequently prescribed class of antibiotics, were found to have a higher risk of severe blood sugar-related problems than diabetic patients taking other kinds of antibiotics, according to a recent study from Taiwan published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. The increased risk was low—hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) related to the drugs occurred in fewer than one in 100 patients studied—but clinicians should consider the higher risk when treating diabetic ...

Does chronic pain affect a spouse's sleep?

Philadelphia, August 15, 2013 – Research suggests that a patient's chronic pain affects a spouse's emotional well-being and marital satisfaction. In a novel study of behavioral health outcomes published in the journal PAIN®, researchers examined the effects of patients' daily knee osteoarthritis pain on their spouses' nightly sleep. They determined that couples who expressed a high degree of closeness in their marriage experienced a stronger association between pain levels and the spouse's ability to sleep restfully. Findings further illustrated that chronic pain may place ...


Scientists model 'true prevalence' of COVID-19 throughout pandemic

New breakthrough to help immune systems in the fight against cancer

Through the thin-film glass, researchers spot a new liquid phase

Administering opioids to pregnant mice alters behavior and gene expression in offspring

Brain's 'memory center' needed to recognize image sequences but not single sights

Safety of second dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines after first-dose allergic reactions

Changes in disparities in access to care, health after Medicare eligibility

Use of high-risk medications among lonely older adults

65+ and lonely? Don't talk to your doctor about another prescription

Exosome formulation developed to deliver antibodies for choroidal neovascularization therapy

Second COVID-19 mRNA vaccine dose found safe following allergic reactions to first dose

Plant root-associated bacteria preferentially colonize their native host-plant roots

Rare inherited variants in previously unsuspected genes may confer significant risk for autism

International experts call for a unified public health response to NAFLD and NASH epidemic

International collaboration of scientists rewrite the rulebook of flowering plant genetics

Improving air quality reduces dementia risk, multiple studies suggest

Misplaced trust: When trust in science fosters pseudoscience

Two types of blood pressure meds prevent heart events equally, but side effects differ

New statement provides path to include ethnicity, ancestry, race in genomic research

Among effective antihypertensive drugs, less popular choice is slightly safer

Juicy past of favorite Okinawan fruit revealed

Anticipate a resurgence of respiratory viruses in young children

Anxiety, depression, burnout rising as college students prepare to return to campus

Goal-setting and positive parent-child relationships reduce risk of youth vaping

New research identifies cancer types with little survival improvements in adolescents and young adul

Oncotarget: Replication-stress sensitivity in breast cancer cells

Oncotarget: TERT and its binding protein: overexpression of GABPA/B in gliomas

Development of a novel technology to check body temperature with smartphone camera

The mechanics of puncture finally explained

Extreme heat, dry summers main cause of tree death in Colorado's subalpine forests

[] UW geographer devises a way for China to resolve its 'immigration' dilemma