›› 2014, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (1): 33-45.doi: 10.1007/s11442-014-1071-9

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The provincial pattern of the relationship between urbanization and economic development in China

CHEN Mingxing, HUANG Yongbin, TANG Zhipeng, LU Dadao, LIU Hui, MA Li   

  1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS;Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2013-03-10 Revised:2013-07-16 Online:2014-02-15 Published:2014-02-15
  • Contact: Ma Li(1975-), PhD, specialized in economic geography and regional sustainable development. E-mail:mali@igsnrr.ac.cn E-mail:mali@igsnrr.ac.cn
  • About author:Chen Mingxing(1982-), PhD, specialized in urbanization and regional development. E-mail:chenmx@igsnrr.ac.cn
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41001080; No.40971076; No.41230632; Key Project for the Strategic Science Plan in IGSNRR, CAS, No.2012ZD006


Understanding the relationship between China's urbanization and economic development on a provincial scale is of profound theoretical and practical significance. Based on data from 124 countries or regions throughout the world and 31 provinces or autonomous regions in China, applying improved methods using the quadrant map approach, this paper analyzed the spatial pattern of the relationship between China's urbanization and economic development level. The study identified the following results. (1) The 31 province-level regions fall into six categories: only one region is in the category of sharp over-urbanization, 3 regions are in medium over-urbanization, 11 slight over-urbanization, 8 basic coordination, one medium under-urbanization, and seven slight under-urbanization. (2) There are significant regional differences on a provincial scale in the relationships between urbanization and the level of economic development. (3) The provincial pattern of urbanization and economic development is significantly different between east and west. The eastern coastal areas are mainly over-urbanized, while the central and western regions are mainly under-urbanized. (4) The relationship between urbanization and the level of economic development is similar to the Matthew effect. Hence, two important insights are proposed. First, the phenomenon of over-urbanization in some developed regions should be viewed with some concern and vigilance. Second, urbanization needs to be speeded up moderately in the central and western regions.

Key words: urbanization, economic development, relationship, provincial pattern, China