China’s historic port city, Ningbo, has promised to provide Hukou, a legal household registration document, to anyone who buys real estate there.

According to Bloomberg, people previously would need to also work in the eastern city to be granted a local hukou. 

The regional permit enables holders to access better medical and education accessibility. In addition, the adjustment is expected to encourage more home buyers to the city and help keep the population stable. 

Property woes have continued in the country, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that residential house sales have fallen 30% in the first eight months of 2022 year-on-year. 

In Ningbo city, data from China Real Estate Information shows that home sales in Ningbo dropped 58% by area in the first three quarters. It was a higher decline than the 46% average in comparable cities. Moreover, as Bloomberg cited from government statistics, in August, prices of used houses in the city dropped to their lowest level for more than seven years.

The world’s second-largest economy is also in a demographic crisis, with the population rapidly getting older and birth rates falling. Xiujian Peng, a senior research fellow at Victoria University, wrote that fewer working-age people would result in considerably slower economic growth and greater labor expenses as the society switches to caring for its older people.

Ningbo, separately, has also undergone population shrinkage. According to Bloomberg, officials said in August that births in the city decreased by 12% in the first half of the year compared to the year prior. Moreover, they predicted a further 10% reduction for the entire year. 

China has loosened the hukou system since 2019 to boost better labor mobility to counteract its slowing economic growth. In addition, Beijing has stated that the system will be less complex for cities with more than 5 million population. Ningbo is one of them.

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