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Unequal Economic Development in China: Spatial Disparities and Regional Policy Reconsideration, 1985-1995


  • X. B. Zhao
  • S. P. Tong


ZHAO X. B. and TONG S. P. (2000) Unequal economic development in China: spatial disparities and regional policy reconsideration, 1985-1995, Reg. Studies 34 , 549-561. Almost two decades into the implementation of Deng Xiaoping's 'get rich first' policy and 'coastal development strategy', income inequality and an imbalance in regional development have emerged as two of the most disturbing factors affecting contemporary China. This paper examines regional disparities in contemporary China and their changing trends and magnitude, based on a time series analysis of data sets for income and production across China for the last 10 years. This paper focuses on the examination of Gini-coefficients and coefficients of variation for two key economic indicators: GDP per capita and household income per capita at four levels of geographical aggregation - provincial, regional, urban and rural. Given that Chinese policy makers appear to have been strongly influenced by the two western theories of regional development (Williamson's inverted-U hypothesis and the centre-down paradigm), this paper includes a brief review of the two theories in a global context. The ndings of this research suggest that these two western regional development theories are rather ineffective and potentially detrimental when applied to China. It is time for Chinese policy makers to reconsider their existing prevailing 'get rich first' policy and 'coastal development strategy', and to focus more on the development of the inland regions. ZHAO X. B. et TONG S. P. (2000) Le developpement economique irregulier en Chine: ecarts geographiques et remise en question de la politique regionale, entre 1985 et 1995, Reg. Studies 34 , 549-561. Apres deux decennies presque de la mise en oeuvre des politiques de Deng Xiaoping. a savoir 'priorite a l'enrichissement' et 'pour un developpement cotier', l'ecart des revenus et le desequilibre regional se sont averes deux des facteurs les plus inquietants qui influent sur la Chine contemporaine. A partir d'une analyse d'une base de donnees en serie temporelle a propos du revenu et de la production dans toute la Chine des dix dernieres annees, cet article cherche a examiner les ecarts regionaux de la Chine contemporaine, leurs tendances et leur importance. Cet article porte sur l'etude des coefficients-gini et des coefficients de variation pour deux clignotants economiques cles: a savoir, le PIB par tete et le revenu menager par tete a quatre niveaux geographiques: provincial, regional, urbain et rural. Vu que les decideurs chinois ont ete influence fortement par deux theories occidentales d'amenagement du territoire (l'hypothese de l'U-inverse de Williamson et le paradigme dit centre-down selon lequel la richesse de quelques regions aura un effet positif sur d'autres), cet article fait une critique breve des deux theories dans une optique globale. Les preuves laissent supposer que ces deux theories occidentales d'amenagement du territoire, appliquees a la Chine, sont quelque peu inefficaces et potentiellement nuisibles. Le moment est arrive ou les decideurs chinois devraient remettre en question les politiques en vigueur, a savoir 'priorite a l'enrichissement' et 'pour un developpement cotier', et focaliser plus sur le developpement des regions interieures. ZHAO X. B. und TONG S. P. (2000) Ungleichmassige wirtschaftliche Entwicklung in China: raumliche Disparitaten und Revision regionalpolitischer Uberlegungen, Reg. Studies 34 , 549-561. Nach nahezu zwei Jahrzehntcn der Implementation von Deng Xiaopings Politik nach dem Motto 'erst einmal reich werden' und seiner 'Strategie der Kustenentwicklung' haben sich Ungleichheit der Einkommen und Unausgeglichenheit der regionalen Entwicklung als die beiden Faktoren herausgestellt, die China nun am meisten zu schaffen machen. Dieser Aufsatz untcrsucht mit Hilfe einer Zeitserienanalyse der Datenreihen fur Einkommen und Produktion in ganz China wa ¨hrend der letztcn zehn Jahre regionale Disparitaten im heutigen China, sowie ihr Ausmass und sich wandelnden Tendenzen. Der Aufsatz befasst sich vorallem mit der Prufung von Gini-Koeffizienten und Variationskoeffizienten fur zwei wirtschaftliche Hauptindikatoren: pro-Kopf Bruttoinlandsprodukt und pro-Kopf Haushaltseinkommen auf jeweils vier Ebenen gcographischer Gesamtbevolkerung: der provinziellen, regionalen, stadtischen und landlichen. Angesichts der Tatsache, dass chinesische Parteiideologen anscheinend stark von zwei Regionalentwicklungstheorien des Westens (Williamsons umgekehrter U-Hypothese und dem Centre-down Paradigma) beein usst sind, schliesst dieser Aufsatz auch eine kurze Besprechung der beiden Theorien im globalen Zusammenhang ein Die Befunde dieser Forschungsarbeit legen nahe, dass diese zwci Regionalcntwicklungstheoricn des Westens sich ziemlich unwirksam und moglicherweise nachteilig fur China erweisen. Fur chinesische Parteiideologen ist es an der Zeit, ihre gegenwartig vorherrschende, unter dem Motto 'erst einmal reich werden' stehende Politik und die 'Strategie der Kustenentwicklung' einer Uberholung zu unterziehen, und sich verstarkt der Entwicklung im Innern des Landes zuzuwenden.

Suggested Citation

  • X. B. Zhao & S. P. Tong, 2000. "Unequal Economic Development in China: Spatial Disparities and Regional Policy Reconsideration, 1985-1995," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(6), pages 549-561.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:regstd:v:34:y:2000:i:6:p:549-561
    DOI: 10.1080/00343400050085666

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. C. Cindy Fan, 1997. "Uneven development and beyond: regional development theory in post‐Mao China," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(4), pages 620-639, December.
    2. Carlino, Gerald A. & Mills, Leonard, 1996. "Testing neoclassical convergence in regional incomes and earnings," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 565-590, December.
    3. T. R. Lakshmanan & Chang-i Hua, 1987. "Regional Disparities in China," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 11(1), pages 97-104, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Celine Bonnefond, 2014. "Growth Dynamics And Conditional Convergence Among Chinese Provinces: A Panel Data Investigation Using System Gmm Estimator," Journal of Economic Development, Chung-Ang Unviersity, Department of Economics, vol. 39(4), pages 1-25, December.
    2. Terry Sicular & Yue Ximing & Björn Gustafsson & Li Shi, 2007. "The Urban–Rural Income Gap And Inequality In China," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(1), pages 93-126, March.


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