The Chinese cities, once characterised by egalitarianism, are becoming the most unequal cities in the world. However, little is known about the spatial implications of such a tremendous transition. This paper examines residential segregation in post-reform Shanghai. For the first time in studying Chinese cities, fine resolution data on the level of the residential committee, from the fifth population census conducted in 2000, are used. The spatial variation of housing tenure is found to be prominent. Most variables in the Index of Dissimilarity (ID) for housing tenure are above 0.5, while the spatial variation of 'commodity housing purchased' and 'public housing rental' is as high as 0.7, indicating a remarkable concentration of various housing groups. No evidence, however, suggests a high extent of segregation of social groups comparable to the West such as in the UK and US. ID between rural migrants and local residents is just 0.2–0.4. ID between residents with low-level and high-level educational attainment is around 0.3. In terms of hukou (household registration) status, educational attainment and housing tenure, a division between the central city and its surrounding areas is identified. Most communities are characterised by homogeneous tenure and heterogeneous population. In all, post-reform urban China is characterised by tenure-based residential segregation. Through market-oriented housing consumption, a new stratified sociospatial structure is in the making; its outcome, however, will continue to be shaped by the sustained impact of institutions such as hukou and work units.
Transactions of the Institute of British GeographersVolume 33, Issue 3, 404 - 419 [doi:10.1111/j.1475-5661.2008.00304.x]