Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 77 ›› Issue (12): 3006-3022.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202212005

• Population Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Urban-rural population change and the regional types evolution of China's urbanization

LIU Tao1,2(), ZHUO Yunxia1,2, PENG Rongxi1,2, CAO Guangzhong1,2()   

  1. 1. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    2. Center for Urban Future Research, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2022-04-25 Revised:2022-11-06 Online:2022-12-25 Published:2022-12-29
  • Contact: CAO Guangzhong;
  • Supported by:
    Major Projects of National Social Science Foundation of China(20&ZD173)


Urbanization is the outcome of population dynamics in both urban and rural areas, which has a profound influence on urban-rural development. This paper puts forward a method to identify regional types of urbanization from the perspective of urban-rural population change. Using this method and based on the census data, this paper analyzes the spatial pattern and influencing factors of China's urbanization. The results show that China has entered an era of rapid urbanization since 1990. Urbanization rates have risen in almost all regions, but with varied pathways over time and across regions. With the decline of natural population growth and the expansion of rural-urban migration, the process of urbanization depends more and more on rural population loss, leading to the transformation of urbanization regional type from "urban-rural growth" to "urban growth" in the country. Although the "urban growth" is the most common regional type of urbanization at both provincial and prefecture levels, the transformation of urbanization regional type from "urban growth" to "rural loss" has been witnessed in a large number of regions in the past decade. Besides, regions with the "urban-rural growth" type have shrunk to places such as Tibet and Shanghai while regions with the "urban-rural loss" type have expanded in non-provincial capital cities in Northeast China. At present, China's urbanization regional type is still driven by economic development: rural population declines faster in areas with rapid economic growth, leading to the "rural loss" urbanization; rapidly industrialized regions have undergone faster urban population growth and slower rural population loss than their counterparts; while the effect of social factors such as public services on urbanization regional type is limited. In addition, the impact of new urbanization strategy and rural revitalization strategy is not yet clear, given the limited attractiveness of urban agglomerations of the western region as well as small and medium-sized cities and the prevalence of rural population loss.

Key words: regional type of urbanization, urban-rural population dynamics, spatial pattern, population census, China