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Urban Growth Determinants in China


  • Zelai Xu
  • Nong Zhu


This article examines the determinants of Chinese city population growth in the 1990s. In this decade, the Chinese government continued to loosen the restriction on rural/urban migration. The consequent rural exodus was accompanied by rapid urban population growth. However, cities of different sizes did not grow at the same rate. Urban literature suggests that city-population growth is determined by some urban characteristics, mainly initial size, economic performance, and geographical factors. Using panel data of Chinese prefecture- and province-level cities over the period 1990-2000, we examine how the subsequent population growth of cities is determined by their initial characteristics. Empirical results show that initial size, neighbor effect, and economic performance are the main factors affecting city population growth. Smaller cities grow faster than larger cities; gross domestic product per capita level and the degree of openness both exert a positive effect on growth rate. Finally, neighbors' impact on city growth has a quadratic shape.

Suggested Citation

  • Zelai Xu & Nong Zhu, 2008. "Urban Growth Determinants in China," Chinese Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(1), pages 7-35, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:chinec:v:41:y:2008:i:1:p:7-35

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The distribution of Chinese city sizes
      by jdingel in Trade diversion on 2010-09-29 01:47:41


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    Cited by:

    1. Shu, Cheng & Xie, Hualin & Jiang, Jinfa & Chen, Qianru, 2018. "Is Urban Land Development Driven by Economic Development or Fiscal Revenue Stimuli in China?," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 107-115.
    2. Han Li & Ye Hua Dennis Wei & Zhiji Huang, 2014. "Urban Land Expansion and Spatial Dynamics in Globalizing Shanghai," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(12), pages 1-20, December.

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