Village-led land development under state-led institutional arrangements in urbanising China: The case of Shenzhen

Yani Lai, Hon Wan Edwin Chan, Lennon Choy

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


As a unique phenomenon of urbanisation in China, the emergence of urban villages has attracted considerable attention from the academic community. Adopting an institutional approach on land development, this study analyses how the land property rights regime affects village-led land development behaviours and spatial outcomes in urban villages. Using a set of reliable data from Shenzhen, the empirical study shows that, although unequal land rights under the current land property rights regime impose severe institutional constraints to the development of urban villages, they actually play a much more important and diversified role in China’s urbanisation than previously recognised. As the primary developers of urban villages, villagers have adopted various land development strategies in response to the changing market environment and internal economic conditions in the dynamic urbanisation process. These dynamic strategies have contributed to the coexistence of sub-optimal industrial development and high-quality housing development in urban villages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1736-1759
Number of pages24
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • China
  • institutional arrangements
  • land development
  • land property rights
  • urban villages
  • urbanisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies

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