Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2013, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (2): 297-314.doi: 10.1007/s11442-013-1011-0

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

China’s economic development stage and its spatio- temporal evolution: A prefectural-level analysis

QI Yuanjing1,2, YANG Yu1,2, JIN Fengjun1   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research,CAS,Beijing 100101,China;
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences,Beijing 100039,China
  • Received:2012-11-13 Revised:2012-12-15 Online:2013-02-20 Published:2013-02-20


As important mechanisms of regional strategy and policy,prefecture-level regions have played an increasingly significant role in the development of China's economy.However, little research has grasped the essence of the economic development stage and the spatio-temporal evolution process at the prefecture level;this may lead to biased policies and their ineffective implementations.Based on Chenery's economic development theory,this paper identifies China's economic development stages at both national and prefectural levels. Both the Global Moran I index and the Getis–Ord Gi*index are employed to investigate the spatio-temporal evolution of China's economic development from 1990 to 2010.Major conclusions can be drawn as follows.(1)China's economic development is generally in the state of agglomeration.It entered the Primary Production Stage in 1990,and the Middle Industrialized Stage in 2010,with a‘balanced–unbalanced–gradually rebalanced' pattern in the process.(2)China's rapid economic growth experienced a spatial shift from the coastal areas to the the inland areas.Most advanced cities in mid-western China can be roughly categorized into regional hub cities and resource-dependent cities.(3)Hot spots in China's economy moved northward and westward.The interactions between cities and prefectures became weaker in Eastern China,while cities and prefectures in Central and Western China were still at the stage of individual development,with limited effect on the surrounding cities.(4)While the overall growth rate of China's economy has gradually slowed down during the past two decades,the growth rate of cities and prefectures in Central and Western China was much faster than those in coastal areas.(5)Areas rich in resources,such as Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia,have become the new hot spots of economic growth in recent years.For these regions,however,more attention needs to be paid to their unbalanced industrial structures and the lagging social development against the backdrop of the rapid economic growth, driven predominantly by the exploitation of resources.

Key words: economic development stage, spatial pattern, spatio-temporal evolution, prefectural-level regions