The U.S. housing run-up to the 2008 meltdown has nothing on China. China now represents the world’s largest construction market in terms of built space, adding more than 2 billion square meters of floor area annually—nearly half the global total. About half of China’s annual constructed space is residential, divided about evenly between urban and rural housing.
China's population is growing, of course, and needs shelter. The population in China has increased by about one-third in 30 years, from 1.0 billion in 1982 to an estimated 1.33 billion today. What is striking, however, is the dramatic increase in housing standards, especially in terms of residential space per capita, which now exceeds the averages in Japan and Europe.
The residential construction boom has prompted other challenges. First is the high rate of migration and the projection that 15 million migrants annually will move from rural areas to the cities. Second is the aging of the population, which will lead to both more demand for specialized housing and a likely decrease in household size.
These and other trends are addressed in the Lincoln Institute's latest publication, China’s Housing Reform and Outcomes, edited by Joyce Yanyun Man, director of the Lincoln Institute’s China program and the Lincoln Institute-Peking University Center for Urban Development and Land Policy.
While many analysts are familiar with the remarkable growth of China’s economy, its market-oriented reforms, and the large investments from both domestic and foreign sources over the past 30 years, developments in the housing market are less well known.
Since the housing reform in 1998 that abandoned China’s old system of linking housing to employment, the housing market has seen rapid development and is now a significant source of economic activity and a growing tax base for the Chinese government. But despite improvements in housing conditions for urban residents, the increase in housing prices now raises the unfamiliar challenge of housing affordability in China.
China’s Housing Reform and Outcomes reflects the proceedings of a conference at the Lincoln Institute in May 2009. Scholars who specialize in China’s housing market offer valuable information for government officials, academic researchers, university faculty and students, and others concerned with housing policies and practices in China. The volume will be translated into Chinese and published in association with the Lincoln Institute-Peking University Center for Urban Development and Land Policy in Beijing.