Revisiting inequalities in the commuting burden: Institutional constraints and job-housing relationships in Beijing

Promoting social equality in transport has become a key concern in building inclusive cities. Inequities in the burden of commuting have attracted increasing attention from researchers. Although many studies have described the facts of transport inequality, there has been little in-depth research on institutional factors that influence commuting inequality. This paper aims to contribute fresh evidence on this topic by examining Beijing as a case study through a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches. The results of this analysis show that increasing inequality in the commuting burden largely results from existing institutional discrimination against migrants, especially highly-skilled migrants. Beijing's Danwei, Hukou and BGC systems, as well as the city's housing distribution system, create serious institutional barriers to maintaining Beijing's jobs-housing balance, causing extra commuting burdens for highly-skilled migrants. Surprisingly, low-skilled migrants are restricted less by institutional barriers and maintain a good job-housing relationship due to sufficient provisions of informal houses and jobs in a broad range of urban areas. The authors' study reveals a “back to Danwei house” movement through which local households negotiate the growing commuting burden with the pursuit of quality of life. Based on these findings, they argue that increasing social inequality in the commuting burden may continue to worsen unless institutional discrimination against disadvantaged groups is removed in the process of China's economic transition.


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  • Accession Number: 01678965
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 19 2018 3:05PM