Linking polycentric urban development with the economic and environmental performance of Chinese cities

Authors: Xingjian Liu*, University of Hong Kong
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, China
Keywords: Polycentricity, urban form, China, carbon emission, economic productivity
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Balcony N, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


"Urban polycentricity" has become both an empirical reality and a normative policy objective. This rising interest has resulted in a blossoming scientific literature, but very few studies have examined if and how urban polycentricity unfolding at different geographical scales affects the urban economy and environment. Taking up this empirical challenge, in this paper we systematically examine how polycentricity at intra-urban and inter-urban scales is related to economic productivity and environmental outcomes in Chinese cities. We use an extension of the Cobb-Douglas function to evaluate urban-economic performance based on labor productivity in individual cities, while fine-grained population data are used to measure intra-urban and inter-urban polycentricity. Furthermore, carbon emission of urban residents is approximated by various data sources. We find that intra-urban monocentricity and inter-urban polycentricity tend to be associated with higher levels of labor productivity. Additionally, there is a positive interaction effect between intra-urban polycentricity and inter-urban polycentricity on labor productivity. We also find that there is an agglomeration spillover effect where smaller cities tend to benefit more than larger cities. As for the relationship between carbon emission and urban form, our analysis confirms the relevance of the scale at which polycentricity is measured. The paper concludes with an overview of possible policy implications and possible avenues for future research.

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