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Soc Sci Res. 2015 Jan;49:126-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.07.001. Epub 2014 Jul 31.

The downside of marketization: a multilevel analysis of housing tenure and types in reform-era urban China.

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Department of Sociology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA. Electronic address:
Population Studies and Training Center, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA. Electronic address:
Institute of Population Research, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China. Electronic address:


Based on data from the 2005 National Population Sample Survey and compiled covariates of 205 prefectures, this research adopted principal-component and multilevel-logistic analyses to study homeownership in urban China. Although the housing reform has severed the link between work units and residence, working in state sectors (government, state-owned enterprises and collective firms) remained significant in determining a household's entitlement to reform-era housing with heavy subsidies or better qualities. While the prefecture-level index of marketization reduced local homeownership of self-built housing, affordable housing and privatized housing, its effect is moderated by cross-level interactions with income, education and working in state sectors across different types of housing. Meanwhile, the index of political and market connections promoted all types of homeownership except for self-built housing. By situating the downside of marketization within a context of urban transformation, this research not only challenges the teleological premise of the neoliberal market transition theory but calls for research on institutional dynamics and social consequences of urban transformation in China.


Housing tenure; Market transformation; Persistence of power; Urban China

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