Relocating or Redefined: A New Perspective on Urbanization in China

72 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2019

See all articles by Li Gan

Li Gan

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Qing He

Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE)

Ruichao Si

Nankai University

Daichun Yi

Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) - Research Institute of Economics & Management

Date Written: December 2019

Abstract

China's fast economic growth over the past 40 years has been accompanied by an increasingly rapid rate of urbanization, from about 20% in the early 1980s to 60% in 2018. In addition to natural population growth, rural-urban migration is generally believed to be a dominant driving force. Motivated by a recent finding of a high housing vacancy rate in urban China, however, we find that a large share of urban population growth comes from community reclassification. These redefined migrants (from communities which were reclassified from rural to urban) accounted for 33.4% of total urban population growth from 2010 to 2015. Households in reclassified communities share similar characteristics with those from rural villages, particularly in their ownership of housing. Furthermore, we provide evidence that at the prefecture level, the size of redefined migrants is significantly related to residential land supply, and to the proportion of households holding vacant housing units, but not to the change of night-time light. These results suggest that an inaccurate account of urbanization is an important factor for the oversupply of residential housing units in China.

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Suggested Citation

Gan, Li and He, Qing and Si, Ruichao and Yi, Daichun, Relocating or Redefined: A New Perspective on Urbanization in China (December 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26585. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3511295

Li Gan (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics ( email )

5201 University Blvd.
College Station, TX 77843-4228
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Qing He

Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) ( email )

55 Guanghuacun St,
Chengdu, Sichuan 610074
China

Ruichao Si

Nankai University ( email )

94 Weijin Road
Tianjin, 300071
China

Daichun Yi

Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) - Research Institute of Economics & Management ( email )

55 Guanghuacun Street
Chengdu, Sichuan 610074
China

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