Urban expansion and the urban–rural income gap: Empirical evidence from China


Developing countries tend to exhibit evident urban–rural income divergence as urban areas rapidly expand into adjoining land. However, Western-centric urban theories and studies of spatial inequality have not paid sufficient attention to the connection between income divergence and urban expansion. This paper employed a panel quantile regression model to investigate this relationship in 220 prefecture-level Chinese cities in 2006–2014. To identify potential spatiotemporal effects, we conducted additional robustness checks using the spatial Durbin model and geographical and temporal weighted regression. The results show that a 1 % expansion of urban land decreases the urban–rural income gap by 0.005 % to 0.011 %. This narrowing effect is particularly prominent in the eastern and central regions and in areas that are less urbanized overall. It also varies within regions that have a more pronounced difference between the lowest and highest quantiles in northeastern China and cities with urbanization rates of >50 %. Finally, we find evidence for an inverted U-shaped relationship between urban expansion and the urban–rural income gap. Our results entail suggestions for improved urban–rural development policies aimed toward greater integration and efficiency in urban expansion.

Cities, 129, 103831