Economic performance of spatial structure in Chinese prefecture regions: Evidence from night-time satellite imagery

Authors: Wan Li*, , BinDong Sun, East China Normal University
Topics: Urban Geography, Economic Geography
Keywords: Spatial structure;Monocentricity;Polycentricity;Economic performance;Nighttime satellite imagery;China
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8217, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines the causal link running from spatial structure to productivity in Chinese prefecture regions. Specifically, we investigate whether mono- or polycentricity leads to higher productivity in the context of China. We use satellite-derived data of night-time lights as a measurement of spatial structure to avoid potential measurement errors. While our descriptive statistics show that Chinese city-regions at the prefectural level have a weak tendency towards polycentricity from 2000 to 2010, regression models reveal that a more monocentric spatial structure performs better in terms of labor productivity, a result that a stricter two-stage least square estimation supports. Thus, we advise caution for urban plans and policies encouraging polycentric urban development, which may come at the loss of economic efficiency.

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