Public Housing in Mainland China: History, Ongoing Trends, and Future Perspectives



China has a unique experience of public housing development. Before 1998, public ownership dominated the housing provision in urban China. Nonetheless, the employer-based welfare housing program was formally abolished in 1998, and the overwhelming majority of the public housing stock was quickly privatized. However, the Chinese government again committed to developing public housing in 2007, and a large-scale public housing construction program has been implemented since 2009. This chapter aims to first provide a summary of pre-reform and post-reform public housing development in China and then discuss why the Chinese government has again turned to public housing as a solution after about 30 years of housing reform and privatization. It shows that the recent push for public housing in China should not be seen as a step backward or as the restoration of the pre-reform welfare housing system. Instead, it represents the central authority’s increasing recognition of the complexity of urban housing systems in a modern market economy.


Public housing Housing policy Urban development China 



The research is supported by the funding from Peking University-Lincoln Institute Center for Urban Development and Land Policy, National Science Foundation of China (NSF71173045), Key Social-Science Research Project of Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China (13JZD009), MOHURD (2012–2021) and Fudan University 985-III Project (2012SHKXQN012). Biography of the corresponding author: Professor Jie Chen received his Bachelor’s degree from Fudan University in 1997, Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Oslo in 2001, and Ph.D degree in Economics from the University of Uppsala in 2005. His major research areas include housing and urban policy, real estate investment and finance, and housing price appraisal. His research is published in Journal of Housing Economics, Urban Studies, Housing Studies, Annals of Regional Science, and several other SSCI-listed journals. He serves an executive associate editor of the Journal of Real Estate (in Chinese), an associate editor of International Real Estate Review, and a member of the international advisory committee of International Journal of Housing Policy. He provides policy consulting services to Chinese central and local government agencies and a number of international organizations including World Bank and Asia Development Bank.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Real Estate Research, School of Public Economics and AdministrationShanghai University of Finance and Economics (SHUFE)ShanghaiChina
  2. 2.China Programme of International Centre for Planning ResearchCardiff University (UK)BeijingChina
  3. 3.College of Urban and Environmental SciencesPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  4. 4.Lincoln Institute of Land PolicyCambridgeUSA
  5. 5.Hang Lung Center for Real Estate, Department of Construction ManagementTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina

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