The hukou institution is China’s millennia-old population management system that today remains a matter of great importance to China’s overall political structure and is a central feature of the development model employed by the party-state. Liberal economists for the most part view it as a traditional institution central to feudal and communist structures and as an impediment to the development of the modern Chinese economy. With China’s economy having experienced 30 years of rapid and sustained economic growth while the hukou institution has been maintained and in some cases strengthened, this view now needs to be reconsidered. Moreover, the revolutionary upheaval of 30 years of economic reform and opening means the hukou institution now operates in an environment considerably different to both the traditional feudal economy and the command economy of the early communist period. What role the hukou institution has played in this economic growth and how the changing socio-economic environment has impacted on hukou management remains a matter of central concern.