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Life course and residential mobility in Beijing, China


  • Si-ming Li


This paper analyzes the residential mobility rate in Beijing over the period 1980 - 2001 as revealed by retrospective residential histories collected by a questionnaire survey conducted in early 2001. The results show that there was a sharp increase in residential mobility in the early reform period; however, from the mid-1980s onwards the mobility rate has been oscillating, with a slightly downward trend. Adjusting the gross mobility rate observed by means of logit regression estimation shows that this downward trend is more than a statistical artefact. Structural forces are at work continually to restrain residential moves under the reform. The regression results also show that, although there are similarities between the effects of various life-course variables on residential mobility in Beijing and those in cities in market economies, substantial differences are also found. Age exhibits similar curvilinear effects but mobility peaks at a somewhat later age. Homeownership with partial property rights deters mobility by an even greater margin in Beijing than in cities in the West. Change in marital status is important, but does not automatically bring about a change in residence. Birth of a child, moreover, appears to carry minimal weight in residential change. In this sense, the thesis that residential mobility is a housing-adjustment process is less applicable to the case of Beijing than it is in cities in the West.

Suggested Citation

  • Si-ming Li, 2004. "Life course and residential mobility in Beijing, China," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 36(1), pages 27-43, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:36:y:2004:i:1:p:27-43

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    Cited by:

    1. Li, Bingqin & Duda, Mark & Peng, Huamin, 2007. "Low-cost urban housing markets: serving the needs of low-wage, rural-urban migrants?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 21772, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Brian Lee & Paul Waddell, 2010. "Residential mobility and location choice: a nested logit model with sampling of alternatives," Transportation, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 587-601, July.

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