China's Low Income Urban Housing

Ian G. Cook, Chaolin Gu, Jamie Halsall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, firstly we briefly outline the historical legacies of inner-city housing that are the focus for redevelopment today, and then summarise the legacy of mass housing built by the work-unit or danwei in the Maoist era. The bulk of the paper, however, is then concerned with the switch to privatisation (via 'market socialism with Chinese characteristics') in the Reform Period under Deng Xiaoping and his successors, and the role of land policy that forms an important constraint on housing provision. Demand for low-income housing is in part due to the continuation of the Maoist hukou registration system which acts as a major barrier to full participation in the housing market and consequently China's cities now have a huge migrant non-hukou 'floating population' (liudong renkou) that must be housed via alternative means, preferably as cheaply and effectively as possible. There is also the situation of the 'ant tribe' of young low-paid college graduates to consider. For people like these renting in overcrowded conditions is one option, but because of China's unique development trajectory, (driven by the Chinese Communist Party since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, self-help housing is not a major form of housing provision, therefore there are few examples to consider. Hence, we discuss several examples of China's low income urban housing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-17
Number of pages11
JournalAsian Social Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2013


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