The Ownership Paradox in Urban China

Authors: Youqin Huang*, SUNY - Albany, William Clark, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Daichun Yi, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics
Topics: Population Geography, Asia, Social Geography
Keywords: Homeownership, housing, migration, China
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Council Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


China is an ownership society with more than 90% of households own homes; yet there is a paradox in urban China – large numbers of owners do not live in the apartments of houses that they own. This is more likely with younger owners but is common among all age cohorts. This is clearly a different concept of ownership from what is common in Europe and the United States. This paper examines who own apartments that they do not live in and why, and how we can understand this unusual market outcome. Utilizing China Household Finance Survey data, we find that although multiple ownership is common, it is only partly explained by property market investment. Most of the families who own apartments that they do not use as their primary residence, are young, living in cities other than where they were originally located, and is a reflection of the high cost of owning in the largest Chinese cities on the one hand and migrants' marginalized status on the other hand. In fact, investment is only part of the explanation for most non-residency, rather it is a reflection of the dynamic changes in the housing market in China with large scale migration especially up the urban hierarchy.

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