Impact of the jobs-housing balance on urban commuting in Beijing in the transformation era
This empirical study examines the impact of the jobs-housing balance on individual commuting time in Beijing in the period of transformation of the Chinese economy and society. The results of the analysis show that the jobs-housing balance has a statistically significant association with a worker’s commuting time when the factors of transport accessibility, population density and worker’s socioeconomic characteristics are controlled. The higher the jobs-housing balance, the shorter the worker’s commuting time. The finding suggests that the jobs-housing balance still has significant implications for commuting time, although the recent market-oriented reforms in housing are changing the jobs-housing balance in the danwei system that prevailed in the socialist era. As the housing markets are imperfect, with strong government intervention in Beijing, the finding implies that the co-location hypothesis – which believes development management would create ‘barriers’ to a jobs-housing balance and increase commuting time – needs to be rethought before it can be generalized and applied to China’s cities. The results of the analysis also show that the workers living in danwei housing still have shorter commuting time. The finding indicates that the housing marketization is likely to induce a local jobs-housing imbalance and thereby increase commuting time. In this sense, a deterioration in the jobs-housing imbalance and increased commuting time in Beijing may owe much to the adoption of market-based housing supply.