Housing Ownership, Wealth, and Inequality in China
After housing was transformed from the most important welfare benefit to the most valuable private property
through radical housing reform, housing allocation mechanisms in China are characterized by coexistence of market logic
and socialist legacy, making Chinese housing system exhibits a transitional nature. This study examines these changes in
private ownership of housing. It develops a conceptual framework to shed light on unique implications for the distribution of
housing wealth and distinct housing inequality patterns. It also draws empirical evidence to reveal the longer-term
consequences of the housing reforms. Using the 2011 Chinese Household Finance Survey, this study shows that the reforms in
the late 1990s aggravated housing inequality in current China. While emerging market mechanisms definitely contribute to
housing inequality, socialist institutions such as the household registration (hukou) system continued to be significant.
Findings of this study show that this political discrimination potentially became the most important source of housing
inequality in post-reform China and its effects still exist nowadays.
Keywords - Housing ownership, Housing wealth, Transitional China