In the next decade, China’s new leadership aims to expand the urbanization of its cities through an estimated $6 trillion injection in infrastructure, which includes housing, to support urban migration. Its efforts are directed at eradicating “villages within cities,” clearing out old shipping containers that currently offer affordable private housing near urban areas such as Shanghai to migrants. However, this poses a dilemma in that the government is clearing out cheap neighborhoods for more expensive, urbanized, government-owned housing for migrants who cannot afford and own it. Many migrants who make a living with very small margins may need to rethink their decision to stay in the cities. Though in the next two years, the city of Beijing is prepared to rent out city-built housing units to migrants, the possibility that migrants may not qualify for it is real. Furthermore, it is highly likely that government-built housing will not equal to the amount of those displaced as a result of urbanization.
Given that cheap private housing helped keep migrant labor costs low, what are the potential consequences that may follow government housing? Due to the difficulties that are likely to follow urbanization, such as lower rates of migration, is it likely that the government may rethink its national registration system so that citizens and their public benefits are not tied to their hometowns?