Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2021, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (4): 565-583.doi: 10.1007/s11442-021-1859-3

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The impact of COVID-19 on China’s regional economies and industries

WU Feng1,2, LIU Guijun1,2, GUO Naliang1,2, LI Zhihui1,2,*(), DENG Xiangzheng1,2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2020-12-01 Accepted:2021-01-29 Online:2021-04-25 Published:2021-06-25
  • Contact: LI Zhihui
  • About author:Wu Feng (1979–), PhD and Associate Professor, specialized in complex system modeling and sustainable development. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No(72042020)


Scientifically assessing the economic impact of major public health emergencies, containing their negative effects, and enhancing the resilience of an economy are important national strategic needs. The new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has, to date, been effectively contained in China, but the threat of imported cases and local risks still exist. The systematic identification of the virus’s path of influence and intensity is significant for economic recovery. This study is based on a refined multi-regional general equilibrium analysis model, which measures the economic and industrial impacts at different epidemic risk levels in China and simulates development trends and the degree of damage to industries and the economy under changes to supplies of production materials and product demand. The results show that, at the macroeconomic level, China’s GDP will decline about 0.4% to 0.8% compared to normal in 2020, with an average drop of about 2% in short-term consumption, an average drop in employment of about 0.7%, and an average increase in prices of about 0.9%. At the industry level, the epidemic will have the greatest short-term impact on consumer and labor- intensive industries. For example, the output value of the service industry will fall 6.3% compared to normal. Looking at the impact of the epidemic on the industrial system, the province most affected by the epidemic is Hubei, which is the only province in China in the level-1 risk category. As the disease spread outward from Hubei, there were clear differences in the main industries that were impacted in different regions. In addition, simulation results of recovery intensity of regional economies under the two epidemic response scenarios of resumption of work and production and active fiscal stimulus policies show that an increase in fiscal stimulus policies produces a 0.3% higher rate of gross regional product growth but it causes commodity prices to rise by about 1.8%. Measures to resume work and production offer a wider scope for industrial recovery.

Key words: COVID-19, economic system impact, industrial impact, zoning classification, multi- region general equilibrium, system resilience, recovery strategy