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Journal of Geographical Sciences    2018, Vol. 28 Issue (5) : 685-704     DOI: 10.1007/s11442-018-1499-4
Research Articles |
Optimizing the spatial organization of rural settlements based on life quality
TANG Chengli1(),HE Yanhua1,ZHOU Guohua1,2,ZENG Shanshan3,XIAO Luyao1
1. College of Resource and Environment Science, Hunan Normal University, Changsha 410081, China
2. Hunan Key Laboratory of Geospatial Big Data Mining and Application, Hunan Normal University, Changsha 410081, China
3. Urban and Rural Planning Bureau of Wangcheng District, Changsha 410200, China
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Optimizing rural settlements is an important measure to cope with rural decline, and improve the quality of rural life and attractions. This study introduces the "life quality theory". Based on the mechanisms governing the interactions between rural settlement space and life quality, this study examines how to optimize the spatial organization of rural settlements. Three aspects are evaluated - the integration of rural settlement spatial functions, optimization of spatial structure, and regulation of spatial scale - with the objective of building an optimization mode and framework for the spatial organization of rural settlements with high life quality. Our results suggest the following: (1) The settlement is the spatial carrier of life quality, which is an essential settlement component, and these two aspects influence and improve each other. Therefore, reasonable rural settlement space is an important precondition for higher life quality. (2) The spatial function types of rural settlements can be divided into those that maintain livelihoods, develop industry, and upgrade life quality. Optimizing spatial organization of rural settlements based on life quality requires promoting the maintenance of livelihood, integration of industrial development, and implantation in quality improvement. (3) There are two important components of optimizing the spatial organization of rural settlements. One is promoting the organic concentration of living, agricultural, and industrial spaces, the reasonable distribution of social intercourse, recreational, and services spaces, and the organic balance of living, production, and ecological spaces, so as to reasonably optimize the combination of internal spatial types in settlements. The other is forming a functional structure level of a “comprehensive village-featured village” and building spatial organization settlement modes connected by rural roads by relocating and adjusting the function of villages. These changes would require the destruction of underdeveloped villages, retaining normal villages, enlarging important villages, and constructing new villages. (4) As an ideal mode for optimizing rural settlements space based on life quality, the Rural Road-Oriented Development Model (RROD model) should be built at a rational scale for unit settlement and distance between settlements, leading to a fully functional RROD system with rational structure, auxiliary facility, and well-organized distribution.

Keywords rural settlement      life quality      spatial optimization      RROD model     
Fund:National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41471145;National Social Science Foundation of China, No.41201169;The Key Discipline of Hunan Province Geography Construction Project, No.2011001
Issue Date: 31 March 2018
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TANG Chengli
HE Yanhua
ZHOU Guohua
ZENG Shanshan
XIAO Luyao
Cite this article:   
TANG Chengli,HE Yanhua,ZHOU Guohua, et al. Optimizing the spatial organization of rural settlements based on life quality[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2018, 28(5): 685-704.
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Figure 1  “MIOS” evaluation framework for rural life quality
Index Index value Index Index
Rural per capita net income (yuan/person) 10772 Cumulative rate of return to water in rural areas (%) 98.5
Engel’s Coefficient (%) 37.1 Average number of elderly welfare agencies per township 0.81
Rural per capita steel brick structure (m2/person) 33.4 Rate of rural residents participating in new rural cooperative medical system (%) 98.8
Compulsory student-teacher ratio 14.0 Prevalence rate of sanitary toilet (%) 78.4
Average number of technical training schools for each township 2.26 Expenditure on cultural and educational entertainment (%) 10.5
Rural access roads proportion of administrative village (%) 95.5 Average number of comprehensive cultural stations per township 0.86
Number of rural doctors and health workers per thousand agricultural population 1.47
Table 1  The objective index values of the quality of national rural life evaluation in 2015
Research Study area Research time Main findings
Ren et al., (2006) Chengdu 2005 In the reform of household registration system, living conditions, road traffic facilities, and ecological environment are rated as having high public satisfaction, up to 40%. However, satisfaction is low in terms of per capita income, industrial development, and employment and social security, the proportion of general satisfaction being 54%, 48%, and 40%, respectively. For the policy system and medical insurance, dissatisfaction reached more than 30%.
Zhang and Pan (2008) Anhui 2008 Farmers are not satisfied with rural production and living conditions, highlighting that despite rural infrastructure construction has improved, development has been irregular. Rural cultural infrastructure has received fewer investments, and the rural financial system has little effect on rural economic and social development. Furthermore, rural environmental pollution has become a problem, and the prospects for farmland protection are poor. After 30 years of reform and opening-up, farmers’ income have been raised, but not significantly.
et al. (2009)
Ningxia 2008 Farmers’ life satisfaction in Yanchi County; more satisfied and very satisfied ratings account for 36%, unsatisfactory and quite unsatisfactory ratings account for 14%, and generally satisfied accounts for about 50% of the total survey. Farmer life satisfaction and income have a very significant correlation.
Li H
et al. (2010)
Yunnan, Henan 2010 Farmer life satisfaction responses indicate general satisfaction, but lower-class groups have scores that are significantly lower than those of other groups in overall life satisfaction and each factor.
Zheng (2010) Zhejiang 2010 First, under the premise of limited public financial resources, the total amount of public services in rural areas is low and per capita indicators are relatively low; therefore, the farmer satisfaction rates are not high. Second, constrained by input and output factors, the comprehensive efficiency of rural public service is low and effective supply is relatively inadequate.
Hu and Chen (2012) Jiangsu 2011 The comprehensive score of rural resident satisfaction is 3.12, indicating general satisfaction, among which family satisfaction has the highest score (3.67) and economic status has the lowest score (2.09). The main factors that have a positive impact on improving the satisfaction of rural residents are interpersonal relationships and government public policy; however, economic status, work, and environment are important factors that lower life satisfaction.
Li W Y (2012) Hubei 2012 Farmer satisfaction with rural public infrastructure is better than in other regions, but the proportion of very satisfactory responses is not high; reasons for poor responses are insufficient funds for investing in infrastructure, overlapping functions in agricultural institutions, low investment benefits, and poor investment quality. The primary role of farmers participating in construction is also unclear.
Li and Huang (2013) Hubei 2012 Farmers have a high degree of satisfaction with power supply facilities, drinking water facilities, and transportation facilities, and are generally satisfied with information and communication facilities and with educational and medical facilities. The maintenance of infrastructure and construction of infrastructure, irrigation and irrigation facilities, waste water treatment facilities, and recreational facilities are ranked as having a low degree of satisfaction.
Li F
et al. (2013)
Guangxi, Henan, Heilongjiang, Jiangxi, Ningxia, Sichuan, Gansu, Anhui, Yunnan, Shandong 2013 The proportion of farmer life satisfaction responses that are unsatisfactory and quite unsatisfactory is only 18%, whereas the proportion of more satisfactory and very satisfactory is 49%, indicating a generally high quality of life. The life satisfaction of poor households is lower than that of middle and affluent households in general. Higher life satisfaction is correlated with age of householder, health, housing area, types of consumer durables, road condition, village democracy, and social intercourse. Finally, farmer life satisfaction first increases and then decreases with increasing educational.
et al. (2017)
Jiangsu 2014-2015 Farmers show a high degree of satisfaction with their rural human settlement environment (infrastructure) and rural human settlement environment (natural environment), but they are less satisfied with the rural ecological environment and rural eco-economy. The farmer satisfaction scores are higher in electric power facilities, air quality, lifestyle, water facilities, garbage collection facilities, irrigation facilities, and greening status. Low satisfaction scores are in pond pollution treatment, industrial pollution treatment, fertilizer and pesticide pollution treatment, domestic sewage treatment, eco-industrial development, both human and poultry excrement treatment, eco-agriculture development, and ecological services development.
Table 2  Research and results on the satisfaction of rural life quality
Figure 2  Two-way interactive mechanisms between rural settlement space and life quality
Figure 3  Integrated spatial function of rural settlements based on life quality
Figure 4  Optimizing the internal spatial organization of rural settlements based on life quality
Figure 5  Optimizing the spatial organization of settlement system connected by rural roads
Figure 6  Diagram outlining the mechanisms influencing the spatial organization of rural settlements based on life quality
Figure 7  Diagram outlining the basic structure of a complete RROD unit
RROD scale RROD distance (km)
Unite radius (m) Population size (person)
Plain 650-800 2000-3500 4.0-5.0
Hilly 450-700 2000-3000 3.5-4.5
Mountain 400-600 1500-2500 4.5-5.5
Table 3  Parameter values for the RROD spatial scale in different landform areas
Figure 8  Diamond diagram of the “Five Collaborative Effect” around the RROD model to improve the quality of rural life
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