Spatial Dynamics of Infrastructure Development: Using 65 years of Evidence from China

Posted: 8 Nov 2021 Last revised: 19 Dec 2023

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

Jim Hall

University of Oxford

Jiashun Huang

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

Raghav Pant

University of Oxford - Environmental Change Institute (ECI)

Jianxiong Sheng

MIT University

Ruoran Zhao

the University of Edinburgh Business School, B-CCaS Centre

Date Written: December 17, 2023

Abstract

This study develops an analytical framework of infrastructure development in space and through time. We argue that infrastructure development is an interplay of exogenous and endogenous processes. Using 65 years of evidence from China as a case study, we demonstrate the heterogenous temporal and spatial evolution of the drivers that led to distinct outcomes and identify four distinct phases. Phase I (1949-1979) was dominated by exogenous processes, with the state playing a leading role. In Phase II of its transition (1980-2000), China embraced a hybrid model of state-guided embrace of globalization which resulted in export-led development and drove infrastructure eastwards. Tracking 25 years of China’s Five Year plans, we discuss Phase III (2001-2015) whereby the role of endogenous processes increased, leading to a more domestic-driven model pushing infrastructure growth westwards. Recent policy documents reveal a fourth Phase (2016 and onwards) characterized by commitments to sustainable infrastructure. Subsequently, we test the strength of the drivers empirically and regional effects on infrastructure growth using negative binomial regression. We find that economic growth and population dynamics significantly drive infrastructure development. In addition, regional effects demonstrate that geographical constraints determine the type of infrastructure. Lastly, we discuss the heterogeneous spatial implications of China’s infrastructure transitions. Hotspot analysis is used to identify areas that exhibit statistically significant clustering in the spatial pattern of infrastructure concentrations and examine the ways in which the endogenous and exogenous processes have resulted in the spatial unevenness, spatial clustering, and spatial shift of the infrastructure assets and networks.

Keywords: Infrastructure, Spatial Dynamics, Economy and Space

JEL Classification: O18, O21

Suggested Citation

Hu, Xi and Cojoianu, Theodor and Hall, Jim and Huang, Jiashun and Pant, Raghav and Sheng, Jianxiong and Zhao, Ruoran, Spatial Dynamics of Infrastructure Development: Using 65 years of Evidence from China (December 17, 2023). 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

Jim Hall

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
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

Jianxiong Sheng

MIT University ( email )

Macedonia

Ruoran Zhao

the University of Edinburgh Business School, B-CCaS Centre ( email )

29 Buccleuch Place
Edinburgh, EH8 9JS
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
451
PlumX Metrics