Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 70 ›› Issue (8): 1271-1280.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201508007

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Suburbanization, daily lifestyle and space-behavior interaction in Beijing

Tana1(), Yanwei CHAI1(), Mei-Po KWAN2   

  1. 1. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    2. Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820, USA
  • Received:2014-10-11 Revised:2015-01-08 Online:2015-08-20 Published:2015-08-20


Rapid suburbanization in China is dramatically reshaping the daily life of suburban residents. Characterized by fragmentation, increasing car ownership and job-housing separation, suburbanization is changing the way residents use urban space. In China, long-distance commuting, traffic congestion, spatial mismatch and the low quality of life emerging in the progress of residential suburbanization have caused widespread concerns. Suburbanization of residents' daily life is believed to be a solution to the socio-spatial issues in suburbs. Therefore, scholars have argued that there is an urgent need to introduce behavioral perspectives to the study of suburbanization. This approach will enhance our understanding of the process and the mechanism of suburbanization from the perspective of an individual’s daily life. The important step in this study is to portray the nature of the daily lifestyle in the suburbs. Along with the trend toward behavioral perspectives in human geography, space-time behavior has become an important perspective for the study of urban space. Activity space and travel behavior often serve as important indicators of individual behavior in urban and geographic studies. This study focuses on daily activity-travel behavior, introduces the concept of lifestyle, and brings forward a concept of daily lifestyle based on a combined measure of activity space and trip frequency. The daily lifestyle of suburban residents can be classified into five categories: localization, spatial exclusion, suburbanism, polarization, and city dependence, according to the size of the activity space and the trip frequency. Based on a GPS-facilitated activity-travel survey dataset collected in the Shangdi-Qinghe area in Beijing in 2012, this paper compares the differences in activity-travel behavior among five daily lifestyle groups. The study finds that there are intergroup differences in the spatial distribution of activities, activity participation and modal split among these five lifestyle groups. Furthermore, this paper analyzes the impact of suburbanization on daily lifestyle by examining the relationship between daily lifestyle and built environment while controlling socio-demographic factors using a multinomial logistic model. Women and older people are more likely to be in the categories of localization and spatial exclusion. Low-income people have the higher possibility to be spatially excluded. These outcomes indicate that traditionally disadvantaged groups could be trapped in suburban areas, raising definite concerns for their daily life in suburban areas. Factors associated with the built environment primarily impact the localization lifestyle. Mixed land use in danwei and higher retail density contribute to the concentration of activity space in suburbs, as well as more active travel. The concept of daily lifestyle provides an effective and reasonable way to understand complicated activity-travel behavior of suburban residents. The paper offers a special perspective on understanding suburbanization and the interaction between urban space and individual behavior.

Key words: suburbanization, daily lifestyle, activity space, space-behavior interaction, Beijing