Complex Housing Tenure and Residential Relocation: the Case of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Project: Research project

Project Details


The study tries to unravel the conditions under which residential move takes place for different population groups in Hong Kong. It also attempts to map out the spatial patterns of moves as well as the moves from one housing tenure/type to another. Two major groups requiring special policy attention are singled out for closer scrutiny: first, the underprivileged, including recent mainland immigrants, single-parent households and senior citizens living alone; second, young adults confronting immense hurdles in housing career development. The main data sources include census micro-data files and a household survey undertaken in 2018 by a team of scholars headed by Professor Susanne Choi of CUHK.

Residential mobility underpins housing careers and urban development. At the aggregate level, residential mobility impinges on urban spatial structures and social and public services delivery. While in many cities households with young children dominate suburban moves, in Hong Kong moves in the opposite direction and within older urban districts probably are as frequent, especially for well-off classes; such moves tend to reinforce income and wealth inequality over the urban space. At the neighbourhood level, high mobility tends to underscore prevalence of crime and other social malaise; yet, low mobility could signify neighbourhood ageing, demographically and physically. At the individual and household level, a move can be seen as a process of adjustment to changing housing needs as well as housing career advancement. In particular, the transition from renting to owning is a major personal accomplishment and signifies enhanced stability, residentially and socially.

In Hong Kong, the massive public housing programme, together with the astronomical private home prices, vastly complicates the relation between housing tenure and residential mobility. For low- and middle-income households, allocation of public rental housing (PRH) often assumes major significance in defining life trajectories, not dissimilar from owning a home for the first time. This is especially true for recent mainland migrants, single-parent families, and other socially deprived trapped in sub-divided tenements, regardless of frequent moves. Long PRH queues necessitate prolonged endurance of extreme crowdedness, which impinges severely on personal self-esteem. On the other hand, for many young professionals with well-paid jobs today, not only is homeownership a far-fetched dream, but moving out of parents’ residence to form their own household even after marriage is something not easy to achieve. Arguably, this underlies the widespread apathy and disaffection among youngsters in the Special Administrative Region today.
Effective start/end date1/04/2030/06/21

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.