Convergence and divergence: The spatial-temporal dynamics of urban export structural inequality in China

Authors: Canfei He, Peking University, Changda Yu*, Peking University, Shengjun Zhu, Peking University
Topics: Economic Geography, Urban Geography, China
Keywords: export inequality,export product structure, export destination structure, complexity, hierarchical clustering
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Senate Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Since the Reform and Opening-up policies in 1978, Chinese cities vary drastically from one another in terms of their export performance due to their peculiar, fragmented institutional context, resulting in uneven export patterns. Current literature mostly focus on the overall export performance of China at country level, while little attention has been devoted to the inequality patterns of Chinese cities’ export structure. Based on China’s export data during 2001-2011, this paper examines the spatial-temporal dynamics of urban export structural inequality in China.
By employing hierarchical clustering analysis and new complexity indicators to measure Chinese cities’ export product and destination structures, this paper shows that regional disparity in terms of export product and destination structures exists, for coastal cities were more likely to export high-complexity products to high-complexity countries. However, the uneven dynamics were co-shaped by a process of convergence and a process of divergence in the next 10 years. Multiple-level models suggest that Chinese cities’ overall export inequality is attributed to their export structural disparity, which is highly related to the emerging gap of cities’ product complexity and destination complexity level. Furthermore, the export product structure of Chinese cities is highly correlated with their export destination structure, indicating that urban balanced policies should take into account both export product upgrading and export market diversification.

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