2016 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226


Wartime Migration and Housing Crisis in Shanghai, 1937-1945

Huei-min Sun

Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica

This article explores the impact of the Second Sino-Japanese War on Shanghai, with a focus on the great migration which led to a severe housing crisis. Unlike previous wars, the Sino-Japanese War broke out in Shanghai in August 1937 and damaged not only the Chinese city but also the foreign settlements. Numerous residents sought refuge in flight. This research applies geo-information technology to incorporate and analyze textual, visual, and statistical materials. It first considers the expansion of urban areas in the pre-war period, and how military conflicts curtailed the trend of urban sprawl. It then traces the strategies used by wartime Shanghai residents for migrating and settling, and suggests that most residents with limited socio-economic resources preferred to take refuge in the foreign settlements to the south of Suzhou Creek. The decision led to the contraction of urban areas and initiated harsh housing problems. In wartime Shanghai, even upper-middle class residents could not but shrink their living space in order to save expenses or find income. As well, transfer-rental transactions became more widespread than during the prewar period. This article finally evaluates the accomplishments of the municipal governments by examining the recovery of war-torn urban areas and the moderating of the housing crisis.


Keywords: The Sino-Japanese War, refugees, housing crisis, geo-information technology