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Welfare Housing Estates

Pre-reform Socialist Welfare Housing Estates in China: physical conditions and social profiles


Congratulations to 王伊倜, whose paper is to be published in the September 2015 issue of the Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering.


“The author also thanks David Parks, Ph.D., who edited the English usage and grammar.”

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Beginning in the 1950s, municipal governments and state-owned enterprises built socialist welfare housing estates. When the 1990s arrived, these agencies sold many of these same estates to the sitting tenants. Although the welfare system has changed, these pre-reform housing estates have become important in the urban environment and housing market.

This paper examines their physical condition, the socio-economic profiles of their residents, and how these residents view their estates. The respective research questions are: 1) What are the physical conditions of the pre-reform housing estates? 2) Who lives in these estates? 3) What are their opinions of their housing and of their estate communities?

The research focuses on the Yangtze River Delta region, reporting on fieldwork in four housing estates still occupied by the original tenants. Data comes from a survey of 217 households as well as in-depth interviews with local officials and community property managers. The findings reveal that most residents are older with low income. Although their housing is poorly maintained and managed, most prefer to continue living in their estate.

These results suggest 1) the central government should give local authorities autonomy regarding the maintenance and management of pre-reform socialist welfare housing and 2) local authorities need to take definite steps to improve the estate communities within their jurisdiction.

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