Living space and psychological well-being in urban China:differentiated relationships across socio-economic gradients

Hu, Yang and Coulter, Rory (2017) Living space and psychological well-being in urban China:differentiated relationships across socio-economic gradients. Environment and Planning A, 49 (4). 911–929. ISSN 0308-518X

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Western research has shown that a shortage of living space is associated with poor psychological well-being. By contrast, norms and practices of extended family co-residence, collectivist social organization, and a bureaucratic quota-based housing allocation system were thought to limit the adverse psychological effects of cramped dwelling conditions in pre-reform China. As these buffers may be weakening with the dramatic housing reforms, socio-economic, and cultural changes taking place in post-reform urban China, we use data from the 2010 China Family Panel Studies (N = 13,367) to re-examine the relationship between living space and psychological well-being in contemporary Chinese cities. In particular, we examine the ways in which this relationship is moderated by family wealth and community poverty in order to explore how subjective experiences of dwelling space are shaped by one’s relative socio-economic position. The results show that cramped living conditions are significantly associated with poor psychological well-being in post-reform urban China. Importantly, the psychological implications of cramped dwellings may vary with family and particularly community socio-economic status as this association tends to be stronger among more affluent families and communities than among those that are more impoverished. Taken together the findings indicate that uneven socio- economic development, segmented cultural change, and drastic housing reforms within China’s cities may be interacting to configure people’s housing experiences and health outcomes.

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Journal Article
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Environment and Planning A
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Environment and Planning A, 49 (4), 2017, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Environment and Planning A page: on SAGE Journals Online:
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22 Nov 2016 15:08
Last Modified:
25 Nov 2022 00:38