Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2021, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (12): 1737-1756.doi: 10.1007/s11442-021-1920-2

Previous Articles     Next Articles

City size and employment dynamics in China: Evidence from recruitment website data

HUANG Daquan1(), HE Han1, LIU Tao2,3,*()   

  1. 1. School of Geography, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    2. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    3. Center for Urban Future Research, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2020-12-23 Accepted:2021-08-10 Online:2021-12-25 Published:2022-02-25
  • Contact: LIU Tao;
  • About author:Huang Daquan (1971-), Associate Professor, specialized in spatial planning and urban development. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    Major Project of National Social Sciences Foundation of China(20&ZD173)


This article explored China’s urban employment dynamics with particular focus on the city size effect. Big data derived from the largest recruitment website were used to examine the direct and indirect impacts of city size on employment demand by using mediating and moderating models. We also investigated the roles of the government and location factors which have seldom been considered in literature. Results showed that the concentration degree of new jobs is higher than that of stock employment and population across cities, implying a path dependency mechanism of job creation and employment expansion. Meanwhile, numerous job posts in inland central cities are probably a symptom of more even distribution of employment in future China. Econometric models further verified the significant correlation between city size and job creation. Moreover, industrial diversity, fixed asset investment, and spatial location have heterogeneous effects on employment demand in cities of different sizes and different levels of administration. These results can not only deepen our understanding of the crucial role of city size in urban employment growth but also demonstrate the future trend of labor and population geography of China. Policy implications are then proposed for job creation in cities of China and other developing countries.

Key words: employment dynamics, city size, job creation, industrial diversification, moderating effect, recruitment website