top of page

08 APR 2022 (FRI) 11:00-12:30

Updated: May 19, 2022

Geography Distinguished Seminar Series

Date: 08 April 2022 (Friday)

Time: 11:00 – 12:30 (HKT)

Venue: via Zoom

Zoom link: link will be provided upon successful registration


Title of the talk:

Housing Booms in Gateway Cities

Extraordinary house price gains have become a compelling feature of everyday life in gateway cities, providing opportunities and wealth accumulation for some, but barriers and economic marginalisation for others. This paper draws some lessons from detailed examination of the housing markets in Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Vancouver and London. It reviews the thesis of asset-based welfare, how in marketised societies, economic gains in asset possession, notably homeownership, are intended to offset weak or declining government social services, and also declining real incomes. The citizen as a ‘modern investor subject’ is to be a self-dependent member of an enterprise culture.

But this tidy arrangement has been overturned by the attraction of housing as a quality asset, drawing speculative investment from both local and global investors. A dramatic decoupling of housing markets from labour markets has developed, associated with growing affordability problems, heavy debt loads, and rising generational inequality between owners and non-owners, leading to the potential for political instability. However, in this dispiriting urban geography, Singapore emerges as an informative anomaly.


Professor David Ley

Professor Emeritus of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

David Ley is a Professor Emeritus of urban and social geography at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. His empirical research has studied housing and neighbourhood issues in Canadian cities in a global context, with comparative studies including Australia, Israel and Hong Kong. Following publications on gentrification, including The New Middle Class and the Remaking of the Central City, a recent project examined circular migration by wealthy ethnic Chinese families between East Asia and Canada. Millionaire Migrants tells the story of this migration and its impacts. His current book project is Housing Booms in Gateway Cities, examining the contexts of high housing costs in the gateway cities of Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Vancouver and London. Recipient of a Canada Research Chair, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, of the British Academy of Social Sciences, and a Fellow Emeritus of the Trudeau Foundation.



bottom of page