Examining socio-spatial differentiation under housing reform and its implications for mobility in urban China


Faan Chen, Chris P. Nielsen, Jiaorong Wu, and Xiaohong Chen. 2022. “Examining socio-spatial differentiation under housing reform and its implications for mobility in urban China.” Habitat International, 119, January 2022, Pp. 102498. Publisher's Version


Housing reform in socialist China has incurred considerable restructuring and transformation of urban space and society. Yet its specific socio-spatial outcomes have not been fully investigated from the perspective of housing type at the meso- and micro-levels. This study attempts to fill the gap by examining the nature and magnitude of the consequences of housing reform and the corresponding effects on mobility. Specifically, based on census data and a mobility survey, this paper combines statistical breakdowns and structural equation modeling to capture the socio-spatial differentiation of urban structure resulting from housing reform and its influences on individual vehicle kilometers traveled (VKT) and transportation walking. The results reveal that: (1) different types of housing tend to feature internally homogeneous populations in terms of socio-economic composition and socio-psychological condition, with pronounced social stratification; (2) residents in different types of housing display dramatically different travel styles, with substantial mobility inequities; (3) social differentiation appears to have spatial determinants; in particular spatial segregation contributes to increasing social exclusion; (4) the effects of spatial and social characteristics on mobility are led by housing type; and (5) individual mobility patterns are shaped by the joint influences of spatial and social dimensions of housing differentiation. The findings contribute to further understanding of socio-spatial differentiation in countries with a transitional housing market, suggesting that the design of land-use policies should recognize their social effects and that urban mobility planning practices should deliver sustainability that serves a diverse population, including in particular disadvantaged groups in public and replacement housing. This study serves as a mirror to observe the urban transition compared to other political economies and adds additional richness and diversity to the theoretical debates on the issue of socio-spatial differentiation and empirical evidence on residential and mobility inequities across global contexts.
Last updated on 01/10/2022