Hukou Age Limits Anger Graduates; A new policy prevents college graduates who are too old from getting Beijing residence

Hukou Age Limits Anger Graduates

By Liu Jinsong (刘金松) and Hu Dan (胡丹)
Issue 619, May 13, 2013
When Zhang Xin (a pseudonym) went online to find information about getting a Beijing hukou (household registration), he came across an agency saying that it would cost 220,000 yuan for people “within the age limit.” But for people over the “age limit,” it would cost an additional 40,000 yuan for them to work around “new rules.”

Zhang will finish his master’s degree at Peking University this June, and has already signed a contract with a well-known international company. Many people in his situation can obtain a Beijing hukou through their job so that they access certain social services within the city. Zhang Xin had counted on this.

However, the “age limits” mentioned by the online agency was the first mention he’d heard of any new rules. He thought it might be a scam, so he went to the company he was set to work for, as well as the employment office at his university. They all said they hadn’t heard of any age limits on obtaining a hukou. But after searching more online, Zhang found that the agency wasn’t a scam. Many others were facing the same problem.When he called the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security (BMBHRSS), they confirmed that there was indeed a new policy limiting the age for university graduates who want to get a Beijinghukou after their study. The age limit for undergraduates is 24 years old, 27 for post-graduates, and 35 for Ph.D students.

Unfortunately for Zhang Xin, he just turned 27 last December. After he learned about this new policy, he and a few classmates also facing the same problem set up an online group to work through their issues. Within 10 days, more than 200 people had joined.

The group banded together to report the problem to employment offices at their respective universities asking them to take the issue to BMBHRSS. At the same time, they called BMBHRSS directly and wrote letters to its director.

After seeing no signs that the policy would be relaxed, Zhang and a few students from the online group decided to petition at the Beijing Municipal Bureau for Letters and Calls. They carefully prepared a letter to the director of BMBHRSS criticizing the policy in terms of the real situation, the law and many other aspects.144 students were said to have participated in the petition, 90 percent of which were postgraduates, the rest being Ph.Ds.

Staff who received their petition at the Letters and Calls office also thought the age limit policy shouldn’t be “one size fits all” and that its timing was bad. The staff suggested they write a letter to Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun (王安顺) using their real names. But they cautioned, “Once the policy is implemented, it will be hard to change.”

Zhang and his friends were pleased when they called BMBHRSS again and were told that this is just a “transitional period.” Graduates who’d already signed contracts could still follow the past policy.

After hearing this, Zhang and his friends disbanded the online group, but it turned out the problem wasn’t really resolved. A friend of Zhang’s said that his company had received no notice that this policy was transitional. The company said he couldn’t get a hukou, as he’d passed the age limit.

Zhang said that he was actually given the choice of living in Beijing or Shanghai when he signed his contract. He chose Beijing because it was closer to his home, but he now thinks Shanghai’s hukou policy is much more transparent and reasonable than Beijing’s.

He said that in Shanghai, there’s a scoring system where job holders get points that decide whether or not they can get a local hukou. There are many requirements, but none involve age. Zhang says using age to control the number of hukou issued is a form of discrimination.

Lu Jiehua (陆杰华), a professor of sociology at Peking University, says that public policies should first have a legal basis, no matter how many people it affects. It should also ensure fairness and seriously consider whether or not it’s actually effective at achieving the desired goal. Currently, he says, the hukou age limit conflicts with the law and the principle of equality.

Zhang says that the policy’s designer didn’t take into account the social reality and the labor market. “Take medical majors for example,” Zhang said. “They have a longer study period, so even if they go to school at the normal age, they may have surpassed the age limit upon graduation.”

Zhang says that he’s become very disillusioned after going through the hukou process. His goal now is to emigrate overseas.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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