Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 69 ›› Issue (12): 1821-1832.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201412008

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Tenure-based housing segregation under rapid urbanization in post-reform urban China: A case study of Guangzhou

Hongsheng CHEN1(), Zhigang LI2()   

  1. 1.School of Architecture, Southeast University, Nanjing 210096, China
    2. School of Geography and Planning, Guangdong Key Laboratory for Urbanization and Geo-simulation, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2013-10-16 Revised:2014-06-24 Online:2014-12-25 Published:2014-12-25
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41271163, No.41422103, No.40601033, No.41130747;Major Philosophy and Social Science Research Project of the Ministry of Education of China, No.11JZD028;Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University of the Ministry of Education of China, No.NCET-12-0571;The Major Lab of Ecology and Energy Saving for High Density Human Settlement, Tongji University Project


For the first time in the examination of post-reform Chinese cities, this study uses the newly published 6th census data, at the microscopic level of residential committee, to examine the segregation of housing tenure in Guangzhou, the southern capital city. It first measures the housing tenure index for urban communities, and articulates the spatial pattern of housing tenure index across the city. More than that, it sheds light upon the mechanism of the differentiation of housing tenures through a series of regression models in terms of the variables of population, institution, market and space. In this vein, this paper contributes to the knowledge of the sociospatial morphology of post-reform urban China, with a particular attention paid to the dimension of housing tenure, so to fill the vacuum of our understanding about the pattern or dynamic mechanism of property right spatiality against the context of fast rising urbanism. There are three major findings. First, the average level of housing tenure index of Guangzhou is about 0.71, a high level, indicating its fast-speed privatization as well as de-collectivization of housing assets. Nevertheless, in the study we identify marked disparities across districts, as the index is the largest at the inner suburb, the smallest in the outer suburb, and the level of the central city is in-between. Thereby, the central city is featured by a mix of housing tenure, whilst that of the inner suburb is far more polarized, of which the tenure is dominated by private rental housing, especially those in "urban villages". Moreover, with regards to the spatiality of housing tenure within the central city, there is a "central-peripheral" pattern, as the highest index is found at Yuexiu, Liwan and Haizhu districts, the central area, whilst that of the surrounding districts is far smaller. Second, it is found that the segregation of housing tenure in Guangzhou is not very high, just 0.45, and the concentration index is about 0.68, which indicates that housing with different tenures in Guangzhou is largely spatially mixed, so that in general the segregation is by no means high. A close examination of districts indicates a complicated landscape: the tenure segregation in the inner suburbs, such as Haizhu, Tianhe, Baiyun and Huangpu, is pretty high, or even polarized, whilst the segregation index of outer suburban districts, such as Huadu, Conghua, and Zengcheng, is far smaller. The polarized housing tenure of inner suburbia indicates the assemblage of urban/migrant villages with commodity housing estates in the inner suburbia of Guangzhou. Such findings further highlight the impacts of urban villages and their private rental housing regime upon the sociospatial morphology of post-reform Chinese cities. Third, there are five factors we identify, through regression models, as the major factors of the sociospatial ecology of housing tenure: marriage status, age, educational attainment, hukou status and residential conditions; moreover, two variables, marriage and hukou status, are found to be the key determinants. In this sense, we argue that, differing to the situation in the West, it is the combined effect of family and institution, rather than market, that is driving the (re)structuring tenure landscape of post-reform urban China.

Key words: housing tenure, the index of housing tenure, segregation, mechanism, Guangzhou