Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 71 ›› Issue (10): 1767-1783.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201610009

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The effect of transport accessibility on urban growth convergence in China: A spatial econometric analysis

YIN Jiangbin1(), HUANG Xiaoyan1, HONG Guozhi2, CAO Xiaoshu1, GAO Xingchuan1   

  1. 1. Center for Land Resources Research in Northwest China, Urbanization and Environmental Simulation Key Laboratory in Northwest China, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710119, China
    2. Center for Urban & Regional Studies, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China;
  • Received:2015-12-24 Revised:2016-05-25 Online:2016-11-28 Published:2016-11-28
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41401180 Natural Science Foundation of Shaanxi


The construction of transport infrastructure is a significant strategy to promote urban economic growth and convergence. Based on the neo-classical growth model, this study establishes a spatial econometric model of urban growth convergence, and explores the influences of two types of accessibility on urban economic convergence by using the data of 273 cities in China from 1990 to 2012. The results suggest the following findings. First, a significant global autocorrelation of GDP per capita exists among cities, which suggests that the application of non-spatial model to convergence analysis suffers from the risk of misspecification and a spatial econometric model is competent. Second, the result of spatial econometric model indicates the existence of absolute urban economic convergence in China, with a higher rate of convergence in the period of 2001-2012 than in the 1990s. Third, the effect of transport accessibility between cities on urban economic growth and convergence is appearing gradually in China. At the national level, the improvement of accessibility between cities significantly slowed down the rate of convergence and broadened the economic disparities since 2001. At the regional level, however, it accelerated the rate of convergence of cities in the eastern, central, and western regions, respectively. Fourth, accessibilities between cities and four types (i.e., highway, waterway, railway, and airway) of ports of entry have no significant effect on economic convergence among cities at the national level, but play significant and different roles in determining the convergence among cities at the regional level. In the 1990s, the accessibilities for highway and waterway ports of entry significantly promoted the convergence of cities in the central region, while accessibilities for highway and railway ports of entry restrained the convergence of cities in the western region. But since 2001, the accessibilities for highway ports of entry have mainly influenced the convergence of cities in the central and western regions, and the accessibilities for railway ports of entry mainly influenced the convergence of eastern cities, while the accessibilities for waterway and airway ports of entry had no effect on the convergence in any region. Furthermore, all the four types of accessibilities for ports of entry do not have significant effect on urban growth convergence in Northeast China. Based on these findings, kinds of policies about the promotion of urban growth convergence by transport infrastructure investment are discussed.

Key words: accessibility, convergence, spatial econometrics, regional disparity, China