Housing Differentiation in Transitional Urban China – Cities – article

Housing Differentiation in Transitional Urban China

Zongcai Wei, Yuting Liu, Shenjing He, Haitong Mo | Cities


Due to privatisation, economic restructuring, and liberalisation, housing differentiation commonly occurs in transitional cities worldwide. Cities in marketised socialist China are emblematic of this trend. The implementation of housing marketisation reforms in China intensified nationwide housing differentiation. The extant literature on China’s housing differentiation has mainly focused on different socio-economic groups within a particular city, while nationwide housing differentiation has not received much scholarly attention. Based on the 2015 China Household Finance Survey, this study explores nationwide housing differentiation patterns and identifies individual- and city-level factors driving such patterns in post-reform urban China. Considerable variations in terms of housing area and homeownership status were found across groups with different socio-economic and hukou conditions. Moreover, this study reveals that with the deepening of reforms, institutional factors inherited from the socialist planned economy era and burgeoning market mechanisms intertwined to intensify housing differentiation in transitional urban China. Housing differentiation in terms of housing area and homeownership status was significantly influenced by both individual- and city-level variables. The findings of this study can contribute to the further understanding of the patterns and mechanisms of housing differentiation in countries with transitional institutional environments.


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