Capital Inflows and House Prices: Aggregate and Regional Evidence from China

Hui An, Lijie Yu, Rakesh Gupta

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Rising house prices in China have been of concern for investors and policymakers. Prices have risen substantially in the last decade, especially in large urban cities, and some economists have expressed concerns about the affordability of residential housing for young adults. This phenomenon becomes a major concern for policymakers, in terms of managing policies to balance the residential needs of individuals and the transition to a market economy. Theoretically, house prices ought to be linked to economic factors such as disposable income, availability of land to build and credit policy. However, it appears that traditional economic theories fail to appropriately explain house prices in China. We provide an explanation from the perspective of capital inflows into China. In terms of per capita remittances, China receives the highest inflow of foreign capital, and this may have a significant impact on risk adjusted returns in the Chinese market. To investigate this relationship, we use the vector error correction model to assess the impact of capital inflows on house prices. We find that capital inflows have a significant positive effect on house prices. The study makes important contributions to understanding the relationship between house prices and foreign remittances after controlling for other economic factors. China is a large economy. Because the impact of economic development in China has not been consistent across the country, we address the regional differences in the house price changes to capital inflows. Using regional data, we show that capital inflows have an asymmetric effect on the housing market across different provinces and cities of China. This has important implications for the development of economic policies in China that aim to provide fair access to residential housing for everyone. These findings are also relevant to investors in the housing market, whether investing for a personal residential home or as part of their diversified investment portfolio. It will also be informative to see how a reversal of capital inflows associated with tighter financing conditions in advanced countries will affect house prices in China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-475
Number of pages25
JournalAustralian Economic Papers
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2017


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