Town Planning Review

From upstart city to ‘ghost’ city: informal housing finance in Ordos, China

Town Planning Review (2021), 92, (6), 697–722.


This paper applies the perspective of informality to examine the nexus between informal housing finance and housing markets in China. The study explores the causes, formation, influences and consequences of informal housing financing mechanisms in Ordos. It argues that informal housing finance contributes to the local property market boom and becomes an instrument of wealth building through homeownership, but classifies and reinforces social classes based on their gains from the property market. The study discusses the possibilities of institutionalizing informal housing finance and diversifying economic structures, with special consideration of resource-based frontier cities.

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Author details

Qian, Zhu