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Challenges of creating cities in China: Lessons from a short-lived county-to-city upgrading policy

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  • Fan, Shenggen
  • Li, Lixing
  • Zhang, Xiaobo

Abstract

It has been widely observed that China is under-urbanized. The central government has tried to use various policies to promote urbanization. In this paper, we evaluate one of these policies – count-to-city upgrading. Under China’s hierarchical governance structure, a city status can only be determined and awarded by the central government. In the 1980s and 1990s, China adopted a formula-based county-to-city upgrading policy. Based on a large panel dataset covering all counties in China, we find that the formula was not strictly enforced in the practice. Moreover, jurisdictions that were upgraded to cities prior to 1998 do not perform better than their counterparts that remained county status in terms of both economic growth and providing public services. Largely because of these problems, this policy was called off in 1997. Given the strong need for urbanization, more indigenous institutional innovations are needed to find a viable way of creating cities, which would also provide compatible incentives to local governments.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Comparative Economics.

Volume (Year): 40 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 476-491

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:40:y:2012:i:3:p:476-491

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622864

Related research

Keywords: Urbanization; City creation; Governance structure; Political centralization; China;

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  1. Li, Lixing, 2008. "The Incentive Role of Creating "Cities" in China," MPRA Paper 8594, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Zhang, Xiaobo & Mount, Tim D. & Boisvert, Richard N., 2000. "Industrialization, urbanization, and land use in China:," EPTD discussion papers 58, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  3. Chun-Chung Au & J. Vernon Henderson, 2006. "Are Chinese Cities Too Small?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(3), pages 549-576.
  4. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(5), pages 1017-1098, September.
  5. Zhang, Xiaobo, 2006. "Fiscal Decentralization and Political Centralization in China: Implications for Growth and Inequality," Working Paper Series RP2006/93, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  6. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 2002. "Propensity Score-Matching Methods For Nonexperimental Causal Studies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 151-161, February.
  7. A. Smith, Jeffrey & E. Todd, Petra, 2005. "Does matching overcome LaLonde's critique of nonexperimental estimators?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 305-353.
  8. Lichtenberg, Erik & Ding, Chengri, 2008. "Local Officials as Land Developers: Urban Spatial Expansion in China," Working Papers 6834, University of Maryland, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  9. Sridhar, Kala Seetharam & Wan, Guanghua, 2007. "Firm Location Choice in Cities: Evidence from China, India, and Brazil," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  10. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra E, 1997. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 605-54, October.
  11. Deng, Xiangzheng & Huang, Jikun & Rozelle, Scott & Uchida, Emi, 2008. "Growth, population and industrialization, and urban land expansion of China," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 96-115, January.
  12. Au, Chun-Chung & Henderson, J. Vernon, 2006. "How migration restrictions limit agglomeration and productivity in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 350-388, August.
  13. Anderson, Gordon & Ge, Ying, 2005. "The size distribution of Chinese cities," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 756-776, November.
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