chapter  10
Residential mobility and urban change in China: Si-Ming Li
Pages 15

The study of residential mobility is intimately tied to that of urban housing and residential differentiation. Housing as a commodity is characterized by durability, spatial fixity, lack of malleability, multi-dimensionality and expensiveness (Maclennan 1982). While in situ adjustments in housing consumption are not uncommon, their scope is very limited. By and large a change in housing consumption means a change in residence. Ever since the publication of Rossi (1955) classic piece, residential mobility has been conceptualized as a spatial adjustment process: to adjust housing consumption to changing needs. The latter may be caused by demographic changes within the family; equally it may be caused by changes that take place in the work-place, such as advancement along the job ladder. In the words of economists, a move is an attempt to restore consumption equilibrium from a state of disequilibrium (Hanushek and Quigley 1978). Impediments to residential mobility amount to impediments to attainment of Pareto optimality. Institutional arrangements such as providing adequate and accurate information about housing vacancies and enacting laws governing behaviors of real-estate agents should therefore be established to facilitate housing exchange.