Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 72 ›› Issue (12): 2115-2130.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201712001

• Regional Development •     Next Articles

Rent gap and gentrification in the inner city of Nanjing

Weixuan SONG1,2(), Chunhui LIU3(), Yi WANG4, Yaqi YUAN3   

  1. 1. Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, CAS, Nanjing 210008, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Watershed Geographic Sciences, CAS, Nanjing 210008, China
    3. College of Humanities and Social Development, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, 210095, China
    4. Nanjing Academy of Urban Planning & Design, Nanjing 210005, China;
    5. School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
  • Received:2016-11-20 Revised:2017-07-25 Online:2017-12-25 Published:2017-12-25
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41771184


Gentrification is a frontier field of urban residential differentiation, while the rent gap is a core concept to interpret the phenomenon of gentrification. Through reference, analysis and correction to the rent gap model proposed by Smith, this paper puts forward a classical rent gap theory model different from the Western premises of complete marketization and private ownership of land. In China, rent gap consists of two parts, i.e. "actual rent gap" generated by the public ownership of land and the housing depreciation, and "rent jump" generated by the continuous rapid appreciation of real estate. Both are generated under the background of the political and economic system transition, including the decentralization of the central government, the enterprisation of local government, the marketization of land and housing. Based on this, the paper takes the inner city of Nanjing and "Liji Lane Plot", a typical gentrification area, as an example, and makes use of data such as the housing demolition and compensation, changes in the modes of land transfer and land use, housing price change and other data, in order to analyze and validate the gentrification phenomenon of inner city of Nanjing and the driving effects of the rent gap by describing rent gap practices, environmental improvements and gentrification replacement processes in the demolition and reconstruction of urban areas. The empirical study indicates that: (1) driven by the rent gap interest and dominated by the urban growth coalition, over 150 plots in the inner city of Nanjing have realized high-end reconfiguration in terms of built environment and social class structure by "demolishing the old and building the new"; (2) in the principle of the maximum rent gap, some areas have become hot spots of gentrification, including the areas of Confucius Temple in the south of the city, Xiaguan in the north of the city, Xinjiekou in the central city, and areas along main roads and on both sides of the Qinhuai River, due to sufficient profit margin between land redevelopment cost and expected return; (3) in the screening mechanism of the price of reconstructed commodity housing, over 18,700 needy families unable to move back have been passively moved from the inner city to the urban fringe, and the renewed location in the inner city are occupied by the emerging middle class. When we affirm the gentrification as a means of deep urbanization and a strategy for reproduction of space, gentrification should also be criticized for its damage to the traditional culture of the city and multiple deprivation of the original needy residents in the redistribution of rent gap income.

Key words: residential differentiation, gentrification, rent gap, urban renewal, inner city of Nanjing