China's Housing Reform and Outcomes

  • Li S
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Since the housing reform in 1998 that abandoned China’s old system of linking housing distribution with employment, the housing market has experienced rapid development and is now a significant source of economic activity and a growing tax base for the Chinese government. Despite improvements in housing conditions for urban residents, the considerable increase in housing prices and the resulting affordability problems in many cities have posed enormous challenges at both central and local government levels. Many observers and analysts are familiar with the remarkable growth of China’s economy, its market-oriented reforms, and the large investments from both domestic and foreign sources over the past 30 years. Less well known is how these economic changes have affected the housing market. For example, China now represents the world’s largest construction market in terms of built space, adding more than 2 billion square meters of floor area annually—nearly half the global total. About half of China’s annual constructed space is residential, divided about evenly between urban and rural housing. Some of the growth in housing construction results from population growth: China’s population has increased by about one-third in 30 years, from 1.0 billion in 1982 to an estimated 1.33 billion today. However, the more significant factor has been the dramatic increase in housing standards, especially in terms of residential space per capita, which now exceeds the averages in Japan and Europe. This volume provides background and explanations on the causes and consequences of China’s residential construction boom, and reviews how some established trends and predictions are likely to challenge China’s housing sector in coming years. First is the high rate of migration and the projection that 15 million migrants annually will move from rural areas to the cities. Second is the aging of the population, which will lead to both more demand for specialized housing and a likely decrease in household size. The chapters represent the proceedings of a conference cosponsored by the Lincoln Institute and the Peking University–Lincoln Institute Center for Urban Development and Land Policy in May 2009. Scholars who specialize in China’s housing market offer valuable information for government officials, academic researchers, university faculty and students, and others concerned with housing policies and practices in China. This volume will be translated into Chinese and published in association with the Peking–Lincoln Center in Beijing.

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  • Si-ming Li

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