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County Economy, Population, Construction Land, and Carbon Intensity in a Shrinkage Scenario


  • Tianyi Zeng

    (Key Laboratory of Cold Region Urban and Rural Human Settlement Environment Science and Technology, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, School of Architecture, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150006, China)

  • Hong Jin

    (Key Laboratory of Cold Region Urban and Rural Human Settlement Environment Science and Technology, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, School of Architecture, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150006, China)

  • Xu Gang

    (Key Laboratory of Cold Region Urban and Rural Human Settlement Environment Science and Technology, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, School of Architecture, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150006, China)

  • Zihang Kang

    (Key Laboratory of Cold Region Urban and Rural Human Settlement Environment Science and Technology, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, School of Architecture, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150006, China)

  • Jiayi Luan

    (Key Laboratory of Cold Region Urban and Rural Human Settlement Environment Science and Technology, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, School of Architecture, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150006, China)


As the largest ecological background system and basic economic unit in China, counties are of great significance to China’s carbon emission reduction targets. This article conducts theoretical model construction and empirical test research from a contraction perspective, using population and built-up area change as variables and combining indicators of county scale structure in an attempt to find key scale structure elements and representative indicators that affect the carbon emission intensity of counties. By using data from 140 counties in Northeast China during the period of 2015–2020, an empirical study was conducted on population shrinkage clustering, county size structure, and carbon emission intensity. The results show that: (1) population shrinkage significantly increases the carbon intensity of counties, but the contribution of population shrinkage to carbon intensity is scale-heterogeneous, the contribution effect decreases with population size, and the effect on large counties is minimal; (2) population size and industrial structure are the main factors influencing carbon intensity in counties, both have a negative linear elasticity relationship, and GDP per capita is not included in the overall model and is only significant in large counties; (3) the relationship between total construction land and carbon intensity is an inverted U-shaped Kuznets curve, with a critical value of 30 km 2 , and the total construction land in most counties is below or close to the critical value.

Suggested Citation

  • Tianyi Zeng & Hong Jin & Xu Gang & Zihang Kang & Jiayi Luan, 2022. "County Economy, Population, Construction Land, and Carbon Intensity in a Shrinkage Scenario," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(17), pages 1-16, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:14:y:2022:i:17:p:10523-:d:895852

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