This chapter states that housing is a dimension of the standard of living in which it is possible that rural people can enjoy an advantage over urban people. It explains that housing in most societies performs three main functions: providing shelter, a form of wealth, and denoting social status. In its role in providing shelter, housing meets a human need that is no less basic than that which is met by food. The chapter also states that in urban China, housing has mainly provided shelter because of the way it is owned and allocated. It furthermore discusses the institutional divide of China into rural and urban compartments, as well as broaching the subject of urban housing and rural housing.
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