Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 73 ›› Issue (6): 1018-1032.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201806003

• Urban Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial structure and mechanism of urban poverty in Xi'an city

MA Beibei1,2(),LI Hailing1,2,Yehua Dennis WEI3,XUE Dongqian1,2(),JIANG Jun1,2   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Tourism, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710119, China
    2. National Demonstration Center for Experimental Geography Education, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710119, China
    3. Department of Geography and Institute of Public and International Affairs, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-9155, USA
  • Received:2017-07-06 Online:2018-06-10 Published:2018-06-04
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41171142, No.41371132, No.41329001;Soft Science Research Program of Shaanxi Province, No.2015KRM147


Urban poverty in western China, where poverty is largely concentrated and distinctively different from eastern China, is a relatively less studied but noteworthy research field in China's urban poverty in the transition period. This paper analyzes spatial structure and mechanism of urban poverty in western China, through a case study of Xi'an city, an ancient capital and a traditional industrial base. The data comes from a survey of urban residents' income in main urban areas of Xi'an in 2015. The definition of relative poverty used by the World Bank and the method of FGT index are adopted to evaluate the attributes of urban poverty at the scale of sub-districts. The results show that the average poverty incidence in Xi'an is relatively high, but poverty depth and intensity are weak. Urban poverty presents U-shaped curves from the city center towards suburban areas, along with the variations of spatial heterogeneity and continuity. The inner differentiated fringe of rising extension zone and mature built-up zone are the weakest urban poverty areas. We can identify five types of areas with high poverty rates: declining old inner city areas, deprived development areas, declining traditional industrial areas, urban villages and areas near new growth poles, where people in poverty exhibit different demographic and housing characteristics. The spatial structure of urban poverty in Xi'an reflects the city's stage of socioeconomic development and regional characteristics, which having directly effects on the city's employment capacity and residents' income level. There are multiple forces shaping the spatial structure of urban poverty in Xi'an, ranging from public policy, industrial legacy, tourism and residential choices. During the process of economic transition, urban residents of different income groups are remaking the structure of urban social space of Xi'an through diversified paths, including replacing, filtering, spontaneous agglomeration, segregation, exclusion and reinforce. These findings help us to have a better understanding of the development mechanism underlying urban poverty in less developed inland cities in western China, and provide scientific basis to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of anti-poverty policies in China.

Key words: urban poverty, relative poverty, spatial structure, mechanism, Xi'an city