Since the commercialization of housing in urban China, a dynamic housing market has replaced the pre-reform communist housing provision. With urban districts and suburbs springing up with new apartments, urban dwellers have seen consistent improvements in housing conditions despite a dramatic increase in the urban population. Property development has become the main impetus for China’s economic boom; and the housing market, which stores more than 70 per cent of household wealth, is likewise a major speculative tool that redistributes capital and redirects unearned income. This chapter examines the development and transformation of the three distinct sections of municipal housing – work-unit housing provided under the pre-reform system, remnants of peri-urban villages engulfed by expanding cities, and prevailing commercial properties that have emerged to redefine urban living. The three types of housing create a spatial and historical collage of urban residential and social space. While initially serving distinct social groups, the diverse housing market shapes and consolidates the stratification of the urban population who may or may not benefit from housing wealth appreciation.
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