Housing in China

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Apartments in Suzhou
Apartments in Shanghai

In recent years, housing development has ballooned in China as its economy has developed. Since 1978, the government has promoted the commercialization of housing in urban areas.[1] Property development has become big business in China, with new cities and suburbs springing up with new apartments, and house prices have rocketed in recent times.[2]

Housing construction[edit]

The most important objective of the Chinese government is to increase national GDP, and is launching building developments across China to promote economic development. However, property development in China is vastly outgrowing the number of people who can purchase them which sociologists show a major concern over and argue that it is leading to a deepening of social divisions in the country.[3] Many apartments, hotels and shops remain empty for years, with many Chinese unable to afford them.[3] As The Economist says, "If there is one thing that annoys the man on the Beijing omnibus, it is the cost of housing in China's cities."[4]

This issue was not applicable to the housing market pre-1978 in China. Before the 1970s, the construction of housing in China was sacrificed for the development of industries and industrial growth. The construction of the housing industry only received a small portion of state-allocated funds to continue to develop the industry. Low rents for urban housing were enticing to many people, causing the available housing to be rented out quickly, giving the state little money for the precious space they are renting out. This led to a shortage of housing and a shortage of funds to build more housing.[5]

Between the years of 1995 and 2015, the total investment allocated to the housing industry from the Chinese government has increased from a cap of 50,000 yuan to a cut-off point of 5 million yuan, showing a renewed interest in housing development in recent years from the Chinese government after years of limited funding towards the urban housing projects.[6] The Chinese government announced in March 2011 the objective of building 36 million units of housing by 2015.[4] In September 2011 alone, work commenced on 1.2 million units across China; a 70% increase in the construction of social housing compared with 2010 construction.[4] By 2014,Chinese builders have added 100 billion square feet of housing space in China, equating to 74 square feet per person. Construction of urban housing was a major undertaking. The country has shown a major shift in allocating funds and resources to housing their people, building over 5.5 million apartments between the years of 2003 and 2014 in China’s cities. These construction projects assigned by the state influence the construction job market in China as well. In 2014 alone, 29 million people were employed in urban construction businesses around China.[7]

Property bubble[edit]

The 2011 estimates by property analysts state that there are some 89 million empty properties and apartments in China and that housing development in China is massively oversupplied and overvalued, and is a bubble waiting to burst with serious consequences in the future.[3] The BBC cites Ordos in Inner Mongolia as the largest ghost town in China, full of empty shopping malls and apartment complexes.[8] A large, and largely uninhabited urban real estate development has been constructed 25 km from Dongsheng District in the Kangbashi New Area. Intended to house a million people, it remains largely uninhabited.[9][10] Intended to have 300,000 residents by 2010, government figures stated it had 28,000 residents by this time.[11]

Critics argue that the national social-housing programme disproportionally benefits the urban population and that not only can many of the rural poor ill afford new housing in the cities, but they also find it difficult to obtain household-registration certificates (hukou).[4] The housing development schemes is also affecting the concentration of unemployment as once housing development are completed, workers may be laid off.[12] According to the former Director of China's Housing & Real Estate Administration Bureau, Professor Lin, as of 2008, Beijing had an average of 1.41 individuals per room across the city.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chen, Aimin; Zhang, Kevin H. (2004). Urbanization and Social Welfare in China. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-7546-3313-6. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "Housing in China". China Daily. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c China's Ghost Cities. Dateline SBS. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d "No way home". The Economist. 15 October 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Lee, Yok-shiu (September 1988). "The Urban Housing Problem in China". The China Quarterly. 115: 387–407. 
  6. ^ "Total Investment in Fixed Assets in the Whole Country and Total Investment in Residential Buildings in the Whole Country". National Bureau of Statistics of China. 2016. Retrieved April 30, 2017. 
  7. ^ Glaeser, Edward (Winter 2017). "A Real Estate Boom with Chinese Characteristics". The Journal of Economic Perspectives. 31: 93. 
  8. ^ "Ordos: The biggest ghost town in China". BBC. 17 March 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Ordos, China: A Modern Ghost Town". Time. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  10. ^ Gus Lubin (13 June 2011). "NEW SATELLITE PICTURES OF CHINA'S GHOST CITIES". Business Insider. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  11. ^ Barboza, David (19 October 2012). "A New Chinese City, With Everything but People". New York Times. 
  12. ^ Wu, Fulong; Webster, Chris (1 March 2010). Urban Poverty in China. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 116. ISBN 978-1-84720-969-6. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  13. ^ Zhang, Xing Quan (2008). Housing and Urban Upgrading in Yantai, China. UN-HABITAT. p. 67. ISBN 978-92-1-131923-1. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 

External links[edit]