Housing Stress and Mental Health of Migrant Populations in Urban China

Jie Li, Zhilin Liu

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Social epidemiological studies have long understood housing as a social determinant of mental health. However, most studies have focused on the formal housing sector and the conceptualisation of housing is limited to the housing per se. This study aims to bridge the gap by investigating the mental health impact of housing disadvantages concerning the migrant population in China, who are largely excluded from the formal housing sector. Drawing from recent writings on stress as the intermediary agent between modern city life and mental illness, the study examines the relationship
between housing and neighbourhood conditions, perceived stress and mental health status. Using a large-scale survey conducted in twelve Chinese cities in 2009, this research found that informal housing tenants have the highest level of perceived stress and worst mental health status compared to dormitory tenants and formal housing residents. Poor housing conditions are significantly associated with perceived stress but not with mental health, while the neighbourhood social environment significantly predicts both perceived stress and mental health. The paper concludes
by calling for more ethnographic research on migrants' resilience and stress-coping strategies and more attention in urban planning and housing policy to address the vulnerability and adversity of migrant settlements.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date2 May 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 May 2018


  • Housing Stress
  • Mental Health
  • Migration
  • urban life
  • China

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