Housing Challenges in Chinese Cities Under Urbanization

  • Xiulian Ma
Part of the Governing China in the 21st Century book series (GC21)


Thanks to its reform and opening-up policies since 1978, and the corresponding rapid economic development, China is well on the way to becoming an urbanized nation. Its urbanization rate went up from 17.92% in 1978 to 54.77% in 2014, and correspondingly, the urban population rose from 172 million to 719 million. Meanwhile, as a result of China’s urban housing being reformed from a state welfare provision to a commodity, living space in urban areas has increased from 3.6 square meters in 1978 to 31.93 square meters in 2010, an indicator of greatly improved living conditions. Nevertheless, this accomplishment has also been accompanied in China by unaffordable high housing prices in relation to incomes, and unsatisfied housing demand from multiple vulnerable urban groups (including 180 million migrant workers, young university graduates, and other sandwich-class groups), as well as the emergence of phenomenally poor living conditions (such as “ant clan” and “rat tribe,” as Chinese call them), group renting, and urban villages. To mitigate the situation, China has re-established the low-income housing system, yet only further institutional reforms can resolve these problems more completely.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiulian Ma
    • 1
  1. 1.Chinese Academy of GovernanceBeijingChina

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