Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2008, Vol. 63 ›› Issue (10): 1045-1054.doi: 10.11821/xb200810004

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Spatial Agglomeration and Evolution of Urban Population in China

CHEN Gangqiang, LI Xun, XU Xueqiang   

  1. Center for Urban & Regional Studies, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2008-01-17 Revised:2008-07-01 Online:2008-10-25 Published:2008-10-25
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40871066; No.40830532; National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, No.40525002


The increasing urban agglomerative growth and urban interactions has been a conspicuous feature of urban development in China since the 1990s. This paper makes an analysis on the spatial agglomeration and evolution of urban population in China, 1990-2005. The spatial data in this study are the cities and towns population of 451 cities in 1990, 662 cities in 2000 and 634 cities in 2005. Moran's I, one of Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA) techniques, is the main method, and Moran's I statistics are obtained with the usual 5% significance level in this paper. In order to investigate the rationality of the empirical results, the transition probability matrices are applied to test its robustness, then the results are visualized by ArcGIS 9.0 soft in the research. The main conclusions are as follows: (1) The findings for the global spatial agglomeration of urban population are the existence of positive effect. Though the positive effect of the global spatial agglomeration is not strong, it is more or less increased from 1990 to 2005. On the other hand, the law of the local spatial agglomeration is obvious with a spatial agglomeration of a "T-shaped" pattern or along the main railroad lines, indicating that evolution of spatial structure of urban system has been optimized since 1990. (2) The diversity between HH spatial agglomeration of urban population in the East Zone and the LL ones in the Middle and West zones shows significant imbalance, while its changes show the imbalance had an extended trend during the 1990s and was mitigated in a way after 2000. At the same time, the effect and the changes of spatial agglomeration also suggest that the urban regions in the East Zone represent an integrative development while the ones in the Middle and West zones tend to the polarized development or less harmonious ability as a whole. (3) Furthermore, both different urban regions and the intra-urban regions have distinct state and changes of spatial agglomeration, which manifests that the spatial disparity is reflected not only between regions but also between intra-urban regions. The empirical results also show that the influencing scope of spatial agglomeration has expanded and the state and location of urban agglomeration has changed. (4) To a certain extent, the feature and its change of spatial agglomeration of urban population accord with the functions of market forces, economic development, construction of transport infrastructure, China's spatial development policies and so on.

Key words: local Moran’s I, spatial agglomeration, urban population, imbalance, integration, China