Urban Poverty and Property Rights Changes in China: Full Research Report and Non-Technical Summary.


Since the late 1990s Chinese cities have been swamped with low skilled rural migrants living in marginal conditions. This project examined the mechanisms of urban poverty generation in Chinese cities and the concentration of poor groups in poor neighbourhoods. It reviewed how the redistribution of property rights occurring through urbanisation have impacted the poor. The work examined three major types of poor neighbourhoods: workers’ villages developed in the centrally planned economy; pre-1949 old neighbourhoods; and urban villages. The work was carried out in 25 poor neighbourhoods in six Chinese cities (Xi’an, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Harbin, and Kunming).

The potential academic impact of the work lies in its scrutiny of poverty processes in the context of market transition. The study reveals how the legacy of socialist institutions and newly introduced market forces work together to create social vulnerability. The findings are consistent with the idea that policy should go beyond traditional approaches to demolishing slums and improving physical conditions. The study provides important evidence for formulating the policies of urban village redevelopment in China.


ESRC End of Award Report, and Non-Technical Summary, RES-167-25-0005. Swindon: ESRC. 11 + 3 pp.

Published 1 January 2009