Land ownership and the likelihood of land development at the urban fringe: The case of Shenzhen, China

Tong De Tong, Xiaoguang Wang, Lingjing Wu, Nanqi Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Land development results from a combination of many natural and social drivers. In China, the system of dual land ownership, in which lands are owned either by the state or by a collective, is a unique factor that affects land development, especially during the urbanization process as collective-owned rural land at the urban fringe is rapidly developed for urban uses. This land development process often follows two tracks: 1) Through land expropriation, the government becomes the owner of the land and performs primary land development. 2) Villagers maintain their ownership of the land collectively and convert their undeveloped land into built-up land by themselves rather than having their land expropriated by the government. For collective-owned rural land, the change of land ownership could have important implications for its development process and outcomes. This paper explores the potential relationships between land ownership change and land development at the urban fringe in China. We construct a logistic regression model to determine whether or not land ownership change (i.e., collective-to-state ownership conversion) is correlated with land development. We focus on Shenzhen, China because it has experienced extremely rapid urbanization, and its dual land structure is very notable. We find that in Shenzhen, lands that retained collective ownership are more likely to be developed than those transferred to state ownership, and we offer possible explanations for this finding. Our research will help planners and practitioners better understand the causes, driving forces, and processes of land development in China and contribute to the broader discussion of sustainable urbanization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-52
Number of pages10
JournalHabitat International
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • China
  • Dual-track urbanization
  • Land development
  • Land ownership
  • Ownership change
  • Shenzhen


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