The Spatial Dynamics of Infrastructure Development: Evidence from 70 years of Infrastructure Provision in China

39 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2021

See all articles by Xi Hu

Xi Hu

Harvard Law School; Environmental Change Institute ; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Theodor Cojoianu

Edinburgh Business School - The University of Edinburgh

Jiashun Huang

Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), at Oxford Martin School

Raghav Pant

University of Oxford - Environmental Change Institute (ECI)

Jim Hall

University of Oxford

Date Written: November 3, 2021

Abstract

Despite the crucial role that infrastructure plays in regional development and policy, there is a lack of theory explaining the influence of infrastructure in regional development. In this paper, we develop an analytical framework of infrastructure development in space and through time, after conducting an extensive literature review of 218 papers in multiple fields from around the world. We argue that infrastructure development is an interplay of exogenous and endogenous processes, which adapt relative to each other over time. We use 70 years of empirical evidence from China as a case study and demonstrate the temporal and spatial evolution of the drivers that have led to distinct outcomes. We find three distinct phases that China has undergone in its infrastructure development journey. Phase I is dominated by exogenous processes, with the state playing a leading role. In Phase II of its transition, endogenous processes become more prevalent as China adopts market reforms and integrates into the world economy. Tracking 25 years of China’s Five Year plans and related infrastructure policy targets, we discuss Phase III, which is marked by a profound transformation in terms of the nature and location of infrastructure built, driven by the transition towards sustainability. In the last section of the paper, we discuss extensively the spatial implications of China’s infrastructure transitions, the ways in which the endogenous and exogenous processes have resulted in the spatial unevenness, spatial clustering, and spatial shift of the country’s infrastructure assets and networks.

Suggested Citation

Hu, Xi and Cojoianu, Theodor and Huang, Jiashun and Pant, Raghav and Hall, Jim, The Spatial Dynamics of Infrastructure Development: Evidence from 70 years of Infrastructure Provision in China (November 3, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3956170 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3956170

Xi Hu (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Environmental Change Institute ( email )

Oxford, OX1 3QY
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/people/xhu.html

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.nber.org/people/xi-sisi_hu?page=1&perPage=50

Theodor Cojoianu

Edinburgh Business School - The University of Edinburgh ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9JY
United Kingdom

Jiashun Huang

Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), at Oxford Martin School ( email )

Manor Road Building, Manor Road
Oxford, OX1 3U
United Kingdom

Raghav Pant

University of Oxford - Environmental Change Institute (ECI)

South Parks Road
Oxford, OX1 3QY
United Kingdom

Jim Hall

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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