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Toward Human-Centered Urbanization? Housing Ownership and Access to Social Insurance Among Migrant Households in China

Christine Wen () and Jeremy L. Wallace ()
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Christine Wen: Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
Jeremy L. Wallace: Department of Government, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Sustainability, 2019, vol. 11, issue 13, 1-14

Abstract: For the past few years, China’s urbanization policy has focused on expanding welfare and affordable housing for rural migrants so as to encourage them to put down roots in the city. The international literature disagrees on the relationship between homeownership and welfare—whether the former is a substitute for or a consequence of the latter. Using multilevel logistic regression on a 2015 nationally representative survey, this paper explores the determinants of housing ownership among China’s rural migrant households in their city of residence, focusing particularly on access to urban social insurance. The results show that institutional ties to the city such as enrollment in local pensions and health insurance are associated with higher likelihood of homeownership. This paper argues that policy interventions should target the social security system, as rural migrants are likely unwilling or unable to invest in urban housing due to the increased risk and precarity they typically experience. The findings also suggest that to make urbanization more sustainable, the government should aim at making cities more family-friendly, expanding alternatives to employment-based social insurance schemes, and targeting efforts on interior cities in migrant-sourcing provinces that pose fewer barriers to permanent settlement.

Keywords: urbanization; urban China; rural migrants; homeownership; social insurance (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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