Housing Windfalls and Intergenerational Transfers in China


  • Maria Porter
In this paper, we study the impact of housing reform and the rapid development of the housing market in China on parental wealth and financial transfers they receive from children. During the 1990s, the Chinese government gave property rights to many urban residents who had been allocated housing by their danwei employers. These unexpected windfalls were substantial in size, and grew with the rapid increase in housing prices over time, significantly impacting the asset holdings and wealth of affected urban residents. We find that these exogenous changes in wealth had a considerable impact on transfers received from adult non-resident children. We also find a non-linear relationship between transfers and recipient wealth, and strong evidence for altruistic transfer motives.

Maria Porter is an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics. She is currently involved in research projects in Burkina Faso, China, and the UK. This research involves work on intra-household labor allocation decisions, factors influencing households’ adoption of new agricultural technologies, understanding adult children’s motivations for giving transfers and support to parents, and household bargaining between spouses. She employs a variety of research methods, including randomized control trials, laboratory experiments, and survey data analysis. Maria holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago. Before coming to MSU, she was a research fellow at the University of Oxford. She has taught graduate courses in household and development economics, and undergraduate courses in intermediate microeconomics and development economics.