City Size Distribution in China: Are Large Cities Dominant?

26 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2014

See all articles by Zelai Xu

Zelai Xu

Université d'Auvergne - Clermont 1

Nong Zhu

University of Quebec at Montreal (INRS-UCS)

Date Written: March 3, 2014

Abstract

This paper examines the evolution in size distribution of Chinese cities. Since the relaxation of restrictions on rural/urban migration in the 1980s, China has experienced rapid urban growth. However, cities of different sizes have experienced varying patterns of growth. We first describe the evolution of city size distribution in China by documenting the growth both of city size and of the number of existing cities. Then, focusing on the period from 1990-2000, we characterize the urban evolution trend with the Pareto law estimation, and examine the mobility of cities between different size groups with the Markov transition matrix. We also test the convergence hypothesis in the city population growth process. Our results suggest that, contrary to the expected dominance of large cities’ growth, Chinese city size distribution evened out over the 1990s, with small cities growing more rapidly than large cities.

Keywords: City size distribution, Zipf’s law, Convergence, China

Suggested Citation

Xu, Zelai and Zhu, Nong, City Size Distribution in China: Are Large Cities Dominant? (March 3, 2014). CIRANO - Scientific Publications 2014s-04, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2403830 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2403830

Zelai Xu

Université d'Auvergne - Clermont 1 ( email )

49 Boulevard François Mitterrand
Clermont-Ferrand, Auvergne 63000
France

Nong Zhu (Contact Author)

University of Quebec at Montreal (INRS-UCS) ( email )

P.O. Box 8888, Downtown Station
Succursale Centre Ville
Montreal, Quebec H3C 3P8
Canada

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