Residential Mobility in Chinese Cities in the Twenty-First Century: Implications for Housing Careers and Neighbourhood Governance

Project: Research project

Project Details


The proposed study tries to address a relatively neglected and yet important process underlying China’s unprecedented urban transformation, specifically residential mobility or intra-urban migration, which has major implications for housing career and well- being of individual urbanites and also for neighbourhood sustainability and governance. The focus of the study is on residential relocation since the ending of the welfare allocation of housing in 1998, which has fundamentally changed the meaning of housing to Chinese people, both as a consumption item and as an investment. To unravel the residential mobility trends and the factors underlying residential move or lack of it, and to examine the extent to which residential mobility is related to neighbourhood governance and neighbourly relationships, two interrelated strands of analysis will be undertaken.

First, based on two large-scale household surveys conducted in Guangzhou respectively in 2005 and 2010, the trends of residential mobility and the outcomes of residential move for cohorts of population grown up in pre- and post-reform times and across population groups of different hukou status and migration histories will be studied. The adoption of a life-course approach helps shed light on such issues as: how people brought up in different periods of China’s recent history of unprecedented political, economic and social changes progress along the housing career; the validity of the thesis of residential mobility as a spatial adjustment process for individuals and households of different socioeconomic background, especially hukou status, and age cohorts, and how China’s persistent socialist legacies affect residential relocation; the extent to which specific events particularly those related to housing and financial reforms trigger or inhibit residential mobility.

Homeownership has become as much a Chinese dream as it is an American dream. The rate of homeownership in urban China today tops 70 per cent. Homeowners’ associations, initially emerged more or less spontaneously and lately also formed with local government support, together with estate management firms, have become instrumental in managing community affairs, with the view to protecting if not enhancing the home values. A survey of 1800 Guangzhou households was conducted in late 2012 to elicit the role of homeowners’ associations in residential neighbourhoods of various kinds and located in different parts of the city. The second part of the proposed work will employ this set of newly collected data to examine how neighbourly relations and participation in community affairs, particularly in homeowners’ associations, affect and are conditioned upon residential movements.
Effective start/end date1/09/1531/08/17

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
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


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