Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2012, Vol. 67 ›› Issue (6): 829-840.doi: 10.11821/xb201206010

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Distributions of Population and Employment and Evolution of Spatial Structures in the Beijing Metropolitan Area

SUN Tieshan1, WANG Lanlan2, LI Guoping1   

  1. 1. School of Government, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China;
    2. China Academy of Public Finance and Public Policy, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing 100081, China
  • Received:2011-05-31 Revised:2012-02-09 Online:2012-06-20 Published:2012-08-13
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41001069; Grant Program of National Social Science Foundation of China, No.10zd&022; National Social Science Foundation of China, No.11CJY036

Abstract: This study aims to examine the characteristics and changes of the spatial structure in the Beijing Metropolitan Area with the rapid urban growth and decentralization, through analyzing the spatial distributions of urban population and employment. To demonstrate the spatial evolution of population and employment distributions in the Beijing Metropolitan Area, we apply the nonparametric analysis in this study. Our study finds that the significant population and employment subcenters in the suburbs of the Beijing Metropolitan Area, characterized by the polycentric urban spatial structure. Since the 1980s, with the suburbanization of population, the number of population subcenters has increased in the Beijing Metropolitan Area, and the distribution of population subcenters has expanded from the inner suburbs to the outer suburbs. The overall trend toward the decentralization and polycentrification of population is evident, whereas the spatial extent of the decentralization of population is limited in the Beijing Metropolitan Area. Contrary to the decentralization of population, our study finds that the centralization of employment in the Beijing Metropolitan Area from 2004 to 2008 has led to the weakening influences of the outer suburban employment subcenters as well as the decline of the polycentricity of the spatial structure. This implies the spatial pattern of the Beijing Metropolitan Area may still be highly centralized, and the nature of the monocentric urban spatial structure may not be fundamentally changed. Meanwhile, the decentralization of population and the centralization of employment may lead to the overall jobs-housing imbalance. Therefore, to form the polycentric spatial structure, it is necessary to reinforce the agglomeration economies of suburban subcenters and improve the overall jobs-housing balance in the Beijing Metropolitan Area.

Key words: distributions of population and employment, urban spatial structure, polycentricity, Beijing Metropolitan Area