Land Use/Cover Change

The process and driving forces of rural hollowing in China under rapid urbanization

  • 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

Received date: 2010-03-18

  Revised date: 2010-06-12

  Online published: 2010-12-15

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40635029; No.40871257; Knowledge Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.KSCX-YW-09; No.KZCX2-YW-QN304


Rural hollowing is a recent geographic phenomenon that has received significant attention in China, which is experiencing rapid urbanization. It has led to the wasteful use of rural land resources, and imposed obstacles on the optimization of land use and coordinated urban-rural development. Rural hollowing has various forms of manifestation, which refers to the neglect and vacancy of rural dwellings, both of which can lead to damage and ultimate abandonment of rural dwellings. Damaged dwellings have different degrees of destruction, ranging from slight, moderate to severe. The evolutive process of rural hollowing in general has five stages, i.e., emergence, growth, flourishing, stability, and decline. Based on the combination of both regional economic development level and its physiographic features, the types of rural hollowing can be categorised as urban fringe, plain agricultural region, hilly agricultural region, and agro-pastoral region. Especially, the plain agricultural region is the most typical one in rural hollowing, which shows the spatial evolution of rural hollowing as a “poached egg” pattern with a layered hollow core and solid shape. Furthermore, the driving forces behind rural hollowing are identified as the pull of cities and push of rural areas. In particular, this paper identifies contributors to rural hollowing that include rural depopulation in relation to rapid urbanisation and economic change, land ownership and land use policy, and institutional barriers.

Cite this article

LIU Yansui, LIU Yu, CHEN Yangfen, LONG Hualou . The process and driving forces of rural hollowing in China under rapid urbanization[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2010 , 20(6) : 876 -888 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-010-0817-2