Jobs-housing balance and development zones in China: a case study of Suzhou Industry Park

Jiangping Zhou*, Yiming Wang, Guohua Cao, Shusheng Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Development zones in China are planned as self-contained communities in order to achieve a locally balanced distribution of jobs and homes. Yet the plans are often defied by the market, leading to jobs-housing imbalance as an undesired consequence. In this paper, we examine the case of Suzhou Industry Park (SIP) to explore what has actually happened within a Chinese development zone. Our study reveals the de facto qualitative jobs-housing imbalance within SIP notwithstanding the de jure quantitative balance as envisaged in the local land-use plan. This finding explains why most workers within SIP have to search for homes far away from their workplaces. The qualitative imbalance is attributable to a series of interrelated factors, including (a) the oversupply of industrial land vis-à-vis the undersupply of land for public facilities and residential amenities, (b) the unaffordable house price for local workers, and (c) the increased use of automobiles by commuters. On top of its policy implications, this paper also reflects on the fundamental relationship between planning and market as a broader intellectual perspective to study urban China’s mobility, housing and social issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-380
Number of pages18
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number3
Early online date16 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2017


  • excess commuting
  • Jobs-housing balance
  • planning
  • Suzhou Industry Park
  • the market


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