SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2014, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (8): 897-906.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2014.08.897

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Housing Differentiation in Low-Income Neighbourhoods in Large Chinese Cities under Market Transition

Lin LIU1,2, Gang-bin YANG1,3, Shen-jing HE1()   

  1. 1.Center of Integrated Geographic Information Analysis, Guangdong Key Laboratory for Urbanization and Geo-simulation, School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510275, China
    2.Department of Geography, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221-0131, USA
    3.Guangzhou Transportation Planning Research Institute, Guangzhou, Guangdong 528400,China
  • Received:2013-11-04 Revised:2013-11-19 Online:2014-08-10 Published:2014-08-10


Based on a large-scale household survey conducted in low-income urban neighborhoods in three large Chinese cities, i.e. Guangzhou, Wuhan and Xi′an, this study examines China′s low income urban neighborhoods’ between-group and within-group housing differentiation defined by different socioeconomic characteristics, and analyzes various determinants of housing differentiation under market transition, including institutional factors (hukou, neighborhood type, employer type, etc.) and market factors (social group, age, education, Household income, occupation, etc.). This study aims to present a comprehensive portrait of housing differentiation in low-income urban neighborhoods, and to understand how the confluence of state and market forces contribute to housing differentiation. The merits of this study mainly lie in two aspects: first, based on first-hand data source, this article presents a meticulous examination of housing differentiation within and between groups categorized by various indicators; second, this study enriches our understanding of the role of institutional and market forces by providing a more accurate assessment on their respective impacts on different aspects of housing differentiation. In this study, we applied various statistical models to analyze different social groups’ housing differentiation on the housing tenure and housing conditions. Theil′s index is applied to measuring the degree of residential differentiation between and within groups on housing tenure and housing conditions, while multivariate regression model is used to explain the causes of housing conditions differentiation. According to the Theil′s T statistics, the differentiation of housing tenure is most significant among people with different hukou status. These findings suggest that housing tenure differentiation is predominantly shaped by institutional factors, while the impact of market remuneration system, e.g. educational attainment and household income, is comparatively less significant. The patterns of differentiation are slightly different when it is measured by housing conditions. In terms of between group differentiation in housing conditions, groups defined by hukou status, household income, and different cities show a high degree of differentiation. In comparison, between group differentiation is much less significant than within group differentiation. This could be partly explained by the fact that various social groups in Chinese cities are generally characterized by high degree of heterogeneity and mobility under market transition. This is particularly true among residents in low-income neighborhoods, which are highly fluid, volatile, and heterogeneous, although they might become more homogeneous once all better-off residents have moved out. The multivariate regression analyses reveal that the forces from market and the state have brought about different imprints on various aspects of housing status. Institutional factors have projected more significant impacts on some costly and durable housing indicators, which are less likely to change in a short period, such as housing tenure and housing area, while socio-economic determinants are more influential on housing facilities which are comparatively easy to be improved. Concurring with extant literature, this study shows that institutional heritages from the socialist period continue to shape the patterns of housing consumption in post-reform large Chinese cities, although the newly emerged urban housing market starts to play increasing important roles. In addition, this research presents a much more detailed portrait of housing differentiation in low income neighborhoods. This paper has added much richness and nuance to extant understanding of housing differentiation under market transition.

Key words: market transition, institution, market, housing differentiation, low-income neighborhood

CLC Number: 

  • F293.3