Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2021, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (10): 1507-1528.doi: 10.1007/s11442-021-1909-x

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Rural vulnerability in China: Evaluation theory and spatial patterns

YANG Ren1,2(), PAN Yuxin1   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2. China Regional Coordinated Development and Rural Construction Institute, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2021-02-27 Accepted:2021-07-02 Online:2021-10-25 Published:2021-12-25
  • About author:Yang Ren (1984‒), PhD and Associate Professor, specialized in rural geography and land use. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41871177);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41801088);Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province(2018A0303130097)


An indicator system is constructed and applied for comprehensive measurement of rural vulnerability in China’s counties. Through the selection of five representative transects we explore regional differences in, and driving forces of, China’s rural vulnerability. The results show that (1) The rural vulnerability of counties in China is generally within the threshold range of low to medium, and exhibits obvious spatial differences. Along the “Bole-Taipei Line”, there is a spatial pattern of north-south differentiation. Villages in the northeast part of the counties have low vulnerability, while those in the southwest are relatively vulnerable (2) External environmental phenomena are the leading factors that induce rural vulnerability. Specifically, the rural ecological subsystem composed of ecological exposure, ecological sensitivity, and ecological adaptation is the principal determinant of rural vulnerability. The rural economic subsystem composed of economic exposure, economic sensitivity, and economic adaptation is also a core determinant of rural vulnerability. The social subsystem composed of social exposure, social sensitivity, and social adaptation is also an important determinant of rural vulnerability. (3) According to the principle of adapting measures to local conditions, different regions should seek to reduce regional embeddedness and path dependence. We should strengthen the prediction and monitoring of sources of disturbance in rural areas, and scientifically control the sensitivity of the system itself. Then the adaptive capacity of the rural system can be improved pursuant of promoting sustainable development.

Key words: rural vulnerability, rural regional system, rural sustainable development, rural revitalization, rural geography, China