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Transport Infrastructure and the Decentralization of Cities in the People's Republic of China


  • Nathaniel Baum-Snow

    () (Rotmann School of Management, University of Toronto)

  • Matthew A. Turner

    () (Department of Economics, Brown University)


It is widely believed that transport infrastructure has important impacts on the development of cities. Until recently, however, there has been little systematic evidence with which to evaluate claims about the effects of transport infrastructure on the development of cities and regions. In this paper, we describe the evolution of transport infrastructure in the People's Republic of China and how it relates to the evolution of location patterns of population and production in Chinese cities and their surrounding regions. We summarize empirical evidence from Baum-Snow et al. (2017) on the causal effects of various types of transport infrastructure on the decentralization of cities in the People's Republic of China. Finally, we put our results in the context of the existing literature on the effects of infrastructure on productivity and the allocation of resources across locations.

Suggested Citation

  • Nathaniel Baum-Snow & Matthew A. Turner, 2017. "Transport Infrastructure and the Decentralization of Cities in the People's Republic of China," Asian Development Review, MIT Press, vol. 34(2), pages 25-50, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:adbadr:v:34:y:2017:i:2:p:25-50

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The case for investing in roads and railroads - evidence from China
      by (Gulzar Natarajan) in Urbanomics on 2018-10-01 20:51:00

    More about this item


    infrastructure; People's Republic of China; railroads; roads;

    JEL classification:

    • O20 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - General
    • R40 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - General


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