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Walled cities and urban density in China

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  • Rui Du
  • Junfu Zhang

Abstract

We analyse a sample of nearly 300 prefectural‐level cities in China, among which about half historically had city walls. We document that cities that had walls in late imperial China have higher population and employment density today, despite that their walls have long gone. Using data from various sources, we test whether a historically walled city's higher density can be explained by a historical urban core, a different industry composition, a different local geography, a compact urban shape, or more valuable rural land in surrounding areas. We find that historically walled cities still have higher density after taking into account all of these factors, which we interpret as evidence of economic persistence. Se analiza una muestra de casi 300 ciudades chinas a nivel de prefectura, de las cuales cerca de la mitad estuvieron amuralladas en el pasado. Se documenta que las ciudades que tenían murallas en la China imperial tardía tienen hoy en día una mayor densidad de población y empleo, a pesar de que sus murallas han desaparecido hace mucho tiempo. El estudio usa datos de varias fuentes para probar si la mayor densidad de una ciudad históricamente amurallada se puede explicar por un núcleo urbano histórico, una composición industrial diferente, una geografía local diferente, una forma urbana compacta o un mayor valor del área rural circundante. Se encontró que las ciudades históricamente amuralladas siguen teniendo mayor densidad después de tener en cuenta todos estos factores, lo cual se interpreta como evidencia de una persistencia económica. 本稿では、中国におけるおよそ300の県レベルの都市のサンプルを分析する。これらの都市のおよそ半数は、かつての城郭都市である。中国王朝末期に城壁があった都市では、その城壁が撤去されてから長い期間を経ているにもかかわらず、今日でも人口が多く雇用密度が高いことが認められる。様々な情報源からのデータを用いて、かつて城郭都市であった都市の高密度が、その都市のかつての中心部、異なる産業構成、異なる地理、コンパクトな都市形状、または周辺地域におけるより価値の高い農村地によって説明できるかどうかを試みる。かつて城郭都市であった都市は、これらすべての要因を考慮しても、依然として密度が高いと考えられ、我々はそれを経済の持続性のエビデンスと解釈する。

Suggested Citation

  • Rui Du & Junfu Zhang, 2019. "Walled cities and urban density in China," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 98(3), pages 1517-1539, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:presci:v:98:y:2019:i:3:p:1517-1539
    DOI: 10.1111/pirs.12415
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    Cited by:

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    2. Dong, Lei & Du, Rui & Kahn, Matthew & Ratti, Carlo & Zheng, Siqi, 2021. "“Ghost cities” versus boom towns: Do China's high-speed rail new towns thrive?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(C).
    3. Remi Jedwab & Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama, 2020. "Medieval Cities Through the Lens of Urban Economic Theories," Working Papers 2020-9, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    4. Bai, Yu & Arabadzhyan, Anastasia & Li, Yanjun, 2022. "The legacy of the Great Wall," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 196(C), pages 120-147.
    5. Xu, Gang & Zhou, Zhengzi & Jiao, Limin & Zhao, Rui, 2020. "Compact Urban Form and Expansion Pattern Slow Down the Decline in Urban Densities: A Global Perspective," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 94(C).
    6. Jedwab, Remi & Johnson, Noel D. & Koyama, Mark, 2022. "Medieval cities through the lens of urban economics," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • N95 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Asia including Middle East

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