Spatial Agglomeration and Evolution of Urban Population in China

  • Center for Urban & Regional Studies, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China

Received date: 2008-01-17

  Revised date: 2008-07-01

  Online 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.

Cite this article

CHEN Gangqiang, LI Xun, XU Xueqiang . Spatial Agglomeration and Evolution of Urban Population in China[J]. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2008 , 63(10) : 1045 -1054 . DOI: 10.11821/xb200810004


[1] Subramanian M. An operational measure of urban concentration. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 1971, 20 (1): 105-116.

[2] Williamson J. Regional inequality and the process of national development. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 1965, 6: 3-45.

[3] Wheaton W C, Shishido H. Urban concentration, agglomeration economies, and the level of economic development. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 1981, 30(1): 17-30.

[4] Hu Xuwei, Zhou Yixing, Gu Chaolin et al. Studies on the Spatial Agglomeration and Dispersion in China's Coastal City and Town Concentrated Areas. Beijing: Science Press, 2000.
[胡序威, 周一星, 顾朝林等著. 中国沿海城镇密集地区 空间集聚与扩散研究. 北京: 科学出版社, 2000.]

[5] Yao Shimou, Zhu Yingming, Chen Zhenguang. Urban Agglomerations in China. Hefei: University of Science and Technology of China Press, 2001.
[姚士谋, 朱英明, 陈振光. 中国城市群. 合肥: 中国科学技术大学出版社, 2001.]

[6] Henderson V. The effects of urban concentration on economic growth. NBER Working Paper No. 7503, 2000, 2.

[7] Krugman P. Urban concentration: The role of increasing returns and transport costs. International Regional Science Review, 1996, 19: 5-30.

[8] Petrakos G C. Urban concentration and agglomeration economies: Re-examining the relationship. Urban Studies, 1992, 29(8): 1219-1230.

[9] Kanemoto Y. Agglomeration economies and a test for optimal city sizes in Japan. Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, 1996, 10: 379-398.

[10] Krugman P. Increasing returns and economic geography. Journal of Political Economy, 1991, 99: 483-499.

[11] Tabuchi T. Urban agglomeration and dispersion: A synthesis of Alonso and Krugman. Journal of Urban Economics, 1998, 44: 333-351.

[12] Gu Chaolin. Urban Systems in China. Beijing: The Commercial Press, 1992.
[顾朝林. 中国城镇体系. 北京: 商务印书 馆, 1992.]

[13] Zhou Yixing, Zhang Li. Chian's urban economic region in the open context. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2003, 58 (2): 271-284.
[周一星, 张莉. 改革开放条件下的中国城市经济区. 地理学报, 2003, 58(2): 271-284.]

[14] Li Zhen, Gu Chaolin, Yao Shimou. A quantitative study on regional spatial structure of urban system in contemporary China. Scientia Geographica Sinica, 2006, 26(5): 544-550.
[李震, 顾朝林, 姚士媒. 当代中国城镇体系地域空间结构 类型定量研究. 地理科学, 2006, 26(5): 544-550.]

[15] Du Guoqing. Spatial structure of urban systems in developing countries: A case study of China. Journal of Nanjing University (Natural Sciences), 2006, 42(3): 225-241.
[杜国庆. 发展中国家的城市体系空间结构研究: 以中国为例. 南京大学学报(自然科学), 2006, 42(3): 225-241.]

[16] Anselin L. Local indicators of spatial association: LISA. Geographical Analysis, 1995, 27: 93-115.

[17] Gallo J L, Ertur C. Exploratory spatial data analysis of the distribution of regional per capita GDP in Europe, 1980-1995. Regional Science, 2003, 82: 175-201.

[18] Sandy Dall'erba. Distribution of regional income and regional funds in Europe 1989-1999: An exploratory spatial data analysis. The Annals of Regional Science, 2005, 39: 121-148.

[19] Haining R. Spatial Data Analysis: Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

[20] Ma Xiaodong, Ma Ronghua, Xu Jiangang. Spatial structure of cities and towns with ESDA-GIS framework. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2004, 59(6): 1048-1057.
[马晓冬, 马荣华, 徐建刚. 基于ESDA-GIS 的城镇群体空间结构. 地理 学报, 2004, 59(6): 1048-1057.]

[21] Ma Ronghua, Gu Chaolin, Pu Yingxia et al. Urban spatial sprawl pattern and metrics in south of Jiangsu province along the Yangtze River. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2007, 62(10): 1011-1022.
[马荣华, 顾朝林, 蒲英霞等. 苏南沿江 城镇扩展的空间模式及其测度. 地理学报, 2007, 62(10): 1011-1022.]

[22] Xie Hualin, Liu Liming, Li Bo et al. Spatial autocorrelation analysis of multi-scale land-use changes: A case study in Ongniud Banner, Inner Mongolia. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2006, 61(4): 389-400.
[谢花林, 刘黎明, 李波等. 土地利 用变化的多尺度空间自相关分析: 以内蒙古翁牛特旗为例. 地理学报, 2006, 61(4): 389-400.]

[23] Meng Bin, Wang Jinfeng, Zhang Wenzhong et al. Evaluation of regional disparity in China based on spatial analysis. Scientia Geographica Sinica, 2005, 25(4): 393-400.
[孟斌, 王劲峰, 张文忠等. 基于空间分析方法的中国区域差异研 究. 地理科学, 2005, 25(4): 393-400.]

[24] Xu Xueqiang. Urban Development and Urbanization in China. Guangzhou: Guangdong Higher Education Press, 2003.
[许学强. 中国城市发展与城市化. 广州: 广东高等教育出版社, 2003.]

[25] Gallo J L. Space-time analysis of GDP disparities among European regions: A Markov chains approach. International Regional Science Review, 2004, 27(2): 138-163.