GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2018, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (12): 2567-2575.doi: 10.11821/dlyj201812016

Special Issue: 人口与城市研究

• Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Multi-dimensional analysis of housing segregation:A case study of Shenzhen, China

Yu ZHANG(), De TONG(), MacLACHLAN Ian   

  1. School of Urban Planning and Design, Peking University, Shenzhen 518055, Guangdong, China
  • Received:2018-05-31 Revised:2018-09-05 Online:2018-12-20 Published:2018-12-20
  • About author:

    Author: Shi Zhenqin (1988-), PhD, specialized in regional development and land space management in mountain areas. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Deng Wei (1957-), Professor, specialized in mountain environment and regional development.



Residential segregation has been a severe and widespread phenomenon in mega cities along with fast urbanization in China. Migrants from rural area flock into developed cities especially coastal regions for better job opportunities, which provide essential cheap labor for urban growth. However, their housing problems could not be resolved in formal housing either hindered by institutional barrier or unreachable housing price. The housing segregation gradually formed as locals reside in formal gated communities while migrants crowd in informal housing like urban villages, which is characterized with lower rent but substandard living conditions. The housing segregation in China derives from household registration system (hukou). The Index of Dissimilarity (ID) only emphasizes the unevenness of population distribution but could not fully manifest the segregation characteristics in density, location, proximity, etc. Inspired by the work of Massey Denton in multi-dimensional segregation, this article applies three measures of housing segregation (Clustering, Centralization, and Concentration) based on the ID to analyze the segregation between urban residents with and without hukou. It examines the multi-dimensional housing segregation based on hukou status using data from China’s 6th national census in 2010. The typical migrant city Shenzhen was chosen to conduct the case study, and the segregation index of three dimensions was calculated based on 55 sub-districts for comparison. The multi-dimensional segregation indexes showed that Shenzhen has high segregation problems at the city scale, but more homogeneous inside each district. The history, industrial structure and socioeconomic background of each district play a crucial role in the segregation. The outside-custom area provides more chances in labor-dense sectors and attracts more migrants to reside in a large scale, while the inside-custom regions are more advanced in informatics and financial sectors, which results in scattered spots of migrants housing. Cluster analysis reveals the three types of segregation, each of which has its unique processual mechanisms, and policy prescriptions. The study shows that the housing segregation has multiple dimensions and scales. Thus two sets of people could be featured by a single ID yet to be clustered or dispersed, central or peripheral, or concentrated or deconcentrated. Migrants may occupy continuous neighboring blocks in peripheral area, or densely reside in few scattered urban villages in inner city, or congregate in factory dorms alongside each industrial zone. Based on segregation patterns, locations and density, local governments should take different measures like redevelopment of targeted urban villages, large-scale public housing construction or cooperation with factories in worker dormitory improvement accordingly. This article contributes an innovative and comprehensive perspective to conceptualize housing segregation, and provides policy recommendations to deal with the social problems that arise from segregation in China. With the advancement of big data, more practical real-time housing management measures could be developed for practitioners to provide human-centric housing planning and avoid the housing polarization.

Key words: housing segregation, Clustering Index, Centralization Index, Concentration Index, Shenzhen