Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 72 ›› Issue (2): 197-212.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201702002

• Urban and Regional Development • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Impact of population flow on regional economic disparities in the Yangtze River economic belt

Jingjing LI1,2(), Changhong MIAO1,2()   

  1. 1. Key Research Institute of Yellow River Civilization and Sustainable Development & Collaborative Innovation Center on Yellow River Civilization of Henan Province, Henan University, Kaifeng 475001, Henan, China
    2. College of Environment and Planning, Henan University, Kaifeng 475004, Henan, China
  • Received:2016-07-18 Revised:2016-11-08 Online:2017-02-15 Published:2017-02-15
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41329001, No.41430637;Humanity and Social Research Project of Education Ministry to Young Scholars, No.15YJC790049


With the implementation and deepening of household registration reform and liberalizing of factors flow under market economy system, the imbalance in regional development is becoming increasingly complex. Thus it is significant to conduct research on the impact of population flow on regional economic disparities. This paper selected the Yangtze River economic belt as a case study, and used population flow ratio (to divide the difference between resident population and registered population by resident population) to represent the migration size. Based on the county-level data of registered population and resident population in China's fourth, fifth and sixth censuses, we analyzed the spatial-temporal patterns of economic disparities and population flow, and explored population mobility effect on economic inequalities in the Yangtze River economic belt. With the Theil index, spatial analysis and regression modeling methods, the following conclusions could be drawn: (1) The economic disparities based on resident population were smaller than those besed on registered population. The former was shrinking with the elapse of time, while the latter was expanding. (2) The eastern zone showed the megalopolis characteristic and a center-periphery spatial economic structure, with the spatial aggregation of developed counties in the Yangtze River Delta as the planar core area, while there were several sub-center-periphery structures with center city as point core area in the central and western zones. (3) The impact of population flow on economic growth was significantly different between inflow and outflow counties. The increase of population flow rate promoted the economic growth of inflow areas remarkably in 2000 and 2010. While it retarded the economic growth of outflow areas in 2000, and enhanced it slowly in 2010. The county economic gaps in the Yangtze River economic belt was widening. (4) The impact of population flow on regional economy disparities was prominently weakened with the provincial and regional factors taken into account. (5) Population flow was the most prominent factor which affects the regional economic disparities, followed by economic structure embodied in the level of industrialization. The other factors were human capital, fiscal decentralization and regional strategy. Emphasizing labor return, promoting family migration and speeding up industrialization are key policies to prevent and even narrow the regional economic gaps in outflow areas.

Key words: population flow, regional economic disparity, registered population, resident population, Yangtze River economic belt