Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 72 ›› Issue (10): 1800-1811.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201710006

• Regional and Industrial Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Growth or shrinkage: New phenomena of regional development in the rapidly-urbanising Pearl River Delta

Zhiwei DU1,2,3(), Xun LI1()   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2. Guangzhou Institute of Geography, Guangzhou 510070, China
    3. Guangdong Open Laboratory of Geospatial Information Technology and Application, Guangzhou 510070, China
  • Received:2017-01-16 Revised:2017-07-08 Online:2017-11-10 Published:2017-11-06
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41571118, No.41271138


The Pearl River Delta (PRD), a typical area of rapid urbanization with Dongguan as its most representative case of the 'exo-urbanization' model, has thus long been attracting scholarly attention. However, after the financial crisis in 2008, a new spatial phenomenon has emerged in Dongguan, with overall growth and partial shrinkage taking place in the same city area. As the Chinese economy steps into a state of New Normal, partial shrinkage during a process of rapid urbanization has kindled heated debate. Starting from the vacancy phenomenon caused by the outflow of development factors, this paper has integrated three analytical dimensions, i.e., economy, population, and land, to put forward a framework for understanding urban growth and shrinkage. Four types of towns have been identified in Dongguan, featuring, respectively, continuous growth, resurgent growth, moderate shrinkage, and continuous shrinkage. Moreover, time trajectory and spatial pattern of growing and shrinking have been investigated to account for the distribution characteristic of urban growth and shrinkage. Then, through probing the shocks of economic crisis, Lewisian turning point, path dependence existence and institutional arrangement, we have analyzed the mechanisms of urban growth and shrinkage amid rapid urbanization in Dongguan. Conclusions and avenues for future research are discussed in the last section.

Key words: urbanization, shrinking city, spatial pattern, Pearl River Delta, Dongguan