Rules for obtaining hukou－permanent household registration－are being eased in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, as it competes with other cities for an infusion of younger workers to solve the problems of an aging society and a shortage of labor.
As many cities grapple with an aging population－a group that typically pulls out of the workforce upon retirement－younger replacements have become coveted.
In a move designed to attract workers from outside the area, Nanjing announced on Thursday that people will be able to get hukou in four of its 11 districts if they pay local social insurance for six months and have a local residence permit, which can be easily obtained at a public security bureau.
Formerly, people had to pay social insurance for at least 24 months to obtain hukou in Nanjing.
The four districts－Pukou, Luhe, Lishui and Gaochun－are in the Nanjing suburbs.
The provincial capital's seven downtown districts will stick with a points-based household registration system, but will count some points accumulated in Suzhou－another big city in Jiangsu－when people from there apply for Nanjing hukou.
Hukou is required for many aspects of daily life in China, such as schooling for children, health insurance, house purchases and automobile license plate lotteries.
Nanjing also plans to ease hukou requirements for applicants from other cities in Jiangsu and the Yangtze River Delta, the local government said on its website.
Liu Lianjun, a law professor at Southeast University in Nanjing, said China has been easing requirements and simplifying procedures for obtaining hukou in the course of reform and opening-up.
"Many big cities across China have put forward new policies for obtaining hukou to attract talent and more population in recent years following the decline in the younger population and the emergence of an aging society," he said. "It will help cities to better their population, so as to maintain and enhance vitality."
Nanjing had a permanent resident population of 8.5 million in 2019, according to the city's bureau of statistics. There were more than 1.1 million people aged 65 and above in Nanjing at the end of last year－15.5 percent of the total population－according to the Nanjing Gerontological Society.
If retirees are not replaced with younger people, the pressure to find more workers will mount.
In Jiangsu, the proportion of people aged 60 and above will exceed 30 percent of the total population in 2029, according to the provincial health commission.
Many Chinese cities have simplified requirements for obtaining hukou to attract more people, especially the young, in recent years.
In seven districts of Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province and one of China's most advanced cities, college graduates aged 28 and under can get hukou if they pay social insurance for 12 months. They will be qualified to buy houses in the city if they continue to pay social insurance for two more years.
In Shanghai, talent, including graduates from some top Chinese universities and people with doctorates from overseas universities, can get hukou directly.
Fuzhou, Fujian province, abandoned education, job and age requirements for hukou applicants this year.
Guo Wei, an associate professor with Nanjing University's School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said cities' policies to attract workers need to be adjusted in line with their social and economic development to ensure the infusion of various kinds of workers from different industries and their social welfare in the future.
Guo Jun contributed to this story.