Family structure and home ownership: Evidence from China

Shun Wang, Weina Zhou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This paper studies how individuals, particularly low-income individuals, have financed housing purchases since the housing market was privatized in urban China in the 1990s. To the surprise of many policy makers and economists, more than 80% of the households in urban China owned private housing by the end of 2010. In contrast to most developed countries, we find that male siblings are important borrowing resources to purchase housing. Conditional on the number of siblings, having more brothers instead of sisters increases the probability of owning housing among male individuals born during the baby boom (1949–1978) in urban China. However, there is no such brother effect for females. The brother effect is stronger for males with low income or low levels of education and is also stronger when brothers are wealthier. Our results are robust to different model specifications. Our results suggest that females are likely to be excluded from family-based informal financial market for housing purchase among baby boom generations in China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-179
Number of pages15
JournalChina Economic Review
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • Gender inequality
  • Housing
  • Informal financial market
  • Siblings


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