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Low-cost urban housing markets: serving the needs of low-wage, rural-urban migrants?

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This paper fills some of the gaps regarding housing choice, demand, and quality among China’s rural-to-urban migrants using data from a purpose-designed survey of 800 low-status migrants in Tianjin. Results show that many migrants do not to exercise housing ‘choice’ but, rather, undergo housing ‘sorting’ that follows from occupational choices. Less than half of respondents obtained housing in the private rental market and only a slightly higher share pay any rent. Employment variables (industry sector, employer type) are consistently and strongly significant across our housing choice models and significantly affect housing quality as well. Nonetheless, a low-cost rental sector does exist, serving about two-fifths of migrants in our sample. Within this subset, housing demand is more consistent with theory in the sense that income and life cycle factors are important and employment sector has weaker effects. We read the study’s findings as an indication that the primary policy prescription of the urban China housing choice literature as it pertains to rural-to-urban migrants – the need to eliminate institutional barriers that limit access to certain kinds of housing - is desirable but inadequate and may not respond to the concerns of migrants themselves.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/21772/1/Low_cost_urban_housing_markets.pdf

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