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Market development, state intervention, and the dynamics of new housing investment in China


This article examines the temporal and spatial variations in the dynamics of China’s new housing investment and how they were shaped by the development of private markets and persistent state interventions. Using panel data collected for 35 cities from 1999 to 2013, it measures the price elasticity of housing investment to see how housing production responded to housing price changes. It finds that the price elasticity was about 5 from 1999 to 2008, in the range of what studies of market economies have reported. This shows that China succeeded in establishing a market-driven housing supply system. Price elasticity turned negative from 2009 to 2011, indicating a state-driven housing supply system as the Chinese state took unprecedented actions to stimulate the economy in response to the global financial crisis. Elasticity remained negative in 2012 and 2013 but at a reduced scale. Meanwhile, housing investment became much larger after 2008 than before. These changes show that China’s stimulus measures had lasting impacts on the housing industry. Price elasticity is also found to be lower in the eastern region than in the other regions, indicating constraints in the region’s housing production. These findings have important implications in our understanding of Chinese housing markets and housing policies.

Author: Lan Deng, Jie Chen
Publication: Journal of Urban Affairs
Published: February, 2018

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