Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2017, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (6): 731-751.doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1403-7

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Exploring the differential impacts of urban transit system on the spatial distribution of local and floating population in Beijing

Meifeng ZHAO1,*(), Shenghe LIU2,3(), Wei QI2   

  1. 1. College of Urban and Environmental Science, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300387, China
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Nature Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 1000, China
  • Received:2016-06-02 Accepted:2016-12-06 Online:2017-06-10 Published:2017-06-10
  • Contact: Meifeng ZHAO;
  • About author:

    Author: Zhao Meifeng (1986-), PhD, specialized in urban geography. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Liu Shenghe (1967-), Professor, specialized in urban geography. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    Key Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41230632, No.71433008;Doctoral Project of Tianjin Normal University, No.52XB1621


The floating population has become the main driver of urban population excessive growth in China’s mega cities. Urban transit system (UTS) is a significant factor in population spatial distributions within urban areas, especially rapid and high-capacity transit systems. This paper analyzes the causal effects of the extension of expressways and subways between 2000 and 2010 in the Beijing Metropolitan Area (BMA), focusing on the group differences between the local residents and the floating population. Due to the endogeneity of transportation improvements and population growth, Instrumental Variable (IV) regression model is applied to avoid this problem. The results show the local residents increased in the inner suburbs but decreased in the city center, while the floating population increased in the majority areas. IV regression results show that the extension of urban transit systems had statistically significant impacts on population growth across the BMA. The results also show that the extension of urban subway system had more effects on the floating population than the local residents across the BMA. It is mainly caused by the rather low fare of urban subway system. This implies that the excessive subsidy on urban subway system could result in excessive floating population growth and residential differentiation, even residential segregation. Hence, it is necessary to plan and design reasonable and scientific urban transit systems in order to advance reasonable population size and promote residential integration. Moreover, the regional analysis shows that the effects of urban transportation improvements on the local residents are not statistically significant in the inner suburbs. It implies that urban transportation improvements had limited effects on inducing people to move to suburban areas and controlling center city’s population in Beijing. Therefore, it should be stressed the differentiated effects of urban transportation improvements on population distribution in the process of urban planning and population control.

Key words: urban transit systems (UTS), population spatial distribution, causal effects, group differences, Beijing