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Income inequality and access to housing: Evidence from China


  • Zhang, Chuanchuan


Economic theory suggests that income inequality predicts housing price and housing affordability for low-income households. Employing Chinese urban household survey data, this paper examines empirically the relationship between income inequality and access to housing for urban low-income households. The empirical results demonstrate that higher income inequality within cities is significantly related to a higher housing cost burden, a smaller per capita living space, and lower housing quality for low-income households. Further studies demonstrate that the negative impacts of income inequality could be moderated by product differentiation in housing markets, as a higher degree of differentiation in the size of housing units corresponds to a smaller effect of income inequality on housing affordability.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhang, Chuanchuan, 2015. "Income inequality and access to housing: Evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 261-271.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:36:y:2015:i:c:p:261-271
    DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2015.10.003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Matlack, Janna L. & Vigdor, Jacob L., 2008. "Do rising tides lift all prices? Income inequality and housing affordability," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 212-224, September.
    2. Anita I. Drever & William A. V. Clark, 2002. "Gaining Access to Housing in Germany: The Foreign Minority Experience," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 283, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    3. John M. Quigley & Steven Raphael, 2004. "Is Housing Unaffordable? Why Isn't It More Affordable?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 191-214, Winter.
    4. repec:wyi:journl:002165 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Shing-Yi Wang, 2012. "Credit Constraints, Job Mobility, and Entrepreneurship: Evidence from a Property Reform in China," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(2), pages 532-551, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kanbur, Ravi & Wang, Yue & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2017. "The Great Chinese Inequality Turnaround," IZA Discussion Papers 10635, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Chen, W.D., 2016. "Policy failure or success? Detecting market failure in China's housing market," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 109-121.
    3. Guanghua Wan & Ting Wu & Yan Zhang, 2018. "The Decline of Income Inequality in China: Assessments and Explanations," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 17(3), pages 115-140, Fall.
    4. Chen, Y. & He, M. & Rudkin, S., 2017. "Understanding Chinese provincial real estate investment: A Global VAR perspective," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 248-260.
    5. Sanchís Llopis, M. Teresa & Murgui García, Mª Jesús & Gómez Tello, Alicia, 2019. "Exploring the recent upsurge of regional inequality in Europe," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH 28775, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.

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    More about this item


    Income inequality; Access to housing; Low-income households; Urban China;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand


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