Understanding the underutilization of rural housing land in China: A multi-level modeling approach

 Understanding the underutilization of rural housing land in China: A multi-level modeling approach
Jinlong Gao     Yuanyuan Cai     Yansui Liu     Qi Wen     David W. Marcouiller      Jianglong Chen

           A rich body of literature is stressing the crucial importance of migration and market evolution on the underutilization of housing in cities. Rural housing is unique given its less mature market structure. Drawing on an empirical case of Sunan, the work reported in this paper addresses underlying mechanisms of housing land underutilization in rural China. Employing a multi-level modeling approach, results suggest that the likelihood of under-utilization relates to household and village features, such as family attributes, housing/parcel characteristics, type of villages, and geographical locations. Additionally, under-utilization was also closely associated with regional contexts including local economic development levels and migration patterns. Theoretically, we conceptualized rural housing land under-utilization as a land use transition with villagers’ awareness of policy change possibilities in the context of both rapid urbanization and rural transformation with nested hybrid results. We argue that urban-rural differences do not induce underutilization. Rather, policy-induced overbuilding of new houses and insistence on retaining uninhabited older houses combined with the tendency for villagers’ to view investments as a mechanism to retain ties to their rural hometowns drove underutilizaiton.