For the past two decades, urbanisation in China has come relatively easily. As the country proudly claims, slums and shantytowns are rare compared with other developing countries. But ensurin
g a continuing net inflow of migrants into the cities as the youngest population/cohort shrinks will mean giving workers from the countryside more incentives to stay permanently (such as affordable housing and schooling). More money is being spent on these, but not yet enough. Cities say they welcome migrants, but some find roundabout ways of keeping them from settling. Beijing recently launched a set of extraordinary measures to tame property prices and ease traffic congestion. It included all but banning migrants (one-third of the city’s population) from buying homes or cars. In the name of improving safety, it has started closing down basement dwellings where
migrants often live.