Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 71 ›› Issue (12): 2089-2102.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201612002

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial differentiation and the formation mechanism of the middle class areas in Guangzhou

Chunshan ZHOU1(), Yan BIAN2(), Guojun ZHANG3, Jincan HU1   

  1. 1. Guangdong Key Laboratory for Urbanization and Geo-simulation, Geography and Planning School, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2. School of Business Administration, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
    3. School of Public and Management, Guangzhou University of Finance and Economics, Guangzhou 510320, China
  • Received:2016-01-28 Revised:2016-08-08 Online:2016-12-25 Published:2016-12-26
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41271182


As a result of socio-economic development, the middle class in China has grown considerably and has gradually become an important social group, and its expanding housing demand has exerted a profound effect on the socio-spatial structure of cities. This paper analyzes the spatial differentiation and formation mechanism of the middle class social area in Guangzhou to provide a reference for the policy implications of social development planning and urban planning and redevelopment. Based on the fifth and sixth censuses, 148 sub-districts from 10 districts of Guangzhou in 2010 are divided into five social areas—mixed class, middle class, salaried workers, peasant class, and working class—by principal components analysis hierarchical cluster methods, and the spatial distribution and characteristics of the middle class social area are analyzed. Next, using a concentration index, the middle class community is divided into four sub-areas: the educational middle class, the professional middle class, the income middle class, and the mixed middle class. The same approach is then used to examine the spatial distribution and characteristics of the middle class social area in 2000. In comparison of the results from 2000 and 2010, it can be seen that the middle class social area in Guangzhou has experienced the following changes: (1) The middle class social area is expanding, with evident suburbanization and centralization. (2) The suburban area, the banks of the Pearl River, and the economic development zone are the main areas where the middle class is concentrated. (3) The agglomeration of a floating population in the urban villages is leading to the disappearance of the middle class social area. (4) In each sub-social area of middle class, the number and the sub-social area they belonged to have been changing from 2000 to 2010. (5) The middle class social area can be divided into four subtypes according to their changing condition: a stable type, an unstable type, a decaying type, and a growing type. Finally, this paper analyzes the mechanism of the change in the middle class social area from the perspectives of social strata polarization, real estate, globalization, the historical continuity of traditional social space, individual behavior, and urban construction.

Key words: middle class social area, spatial differentiation, formation mechanism, Guangzhou