Spatial Patterns and Driving Forces of Uneven Dual-track Urbanisation in Fujian Province: An Approach Based on Employment Sectors

Blog by Lijie Lin and Jianfa Shen

7 Dec 2018, 11:26 a.m.
Lijie Lin and Jianfa Shen



During the four decades of reform and opening since 1978, China has experienced the rapid economic growth and urbanisation. Both development and urbanisation processes affect the economy, society and people’s life dramatically. Both authors have keen interesting to understand their processes as well as consequences. This research has chosen a coastal city of Fujian for a detailed case study and has been conducted since January 2016.

China’s household registration (hukou) system has significant impacts on migration and urbanisation in China. A large number of migrants, termed “floating population”, have been allowed to move from rural areas to urban areas to work since early 1980s, but without local hukou at destinations. Besides, a lot of agricultural population in rural areas involved in in-situ rural urbanisation by in-situ transformation of rural settlements to small towns along with the employment change from agricultural to non-agricultural sector but without hukou changes. The above changes have led to the emergence of dual-track urbanisation, consisting of state-sponsored and spontaneous urbanisation. The state-sponsored urbanisation refers to the growth of non-agricultural population in urban areas with urban hukou, whereas the spontaneous urbanisation refers to rural urbanisation driven by in-situ rural urbanisation and the migration of temporary population to urban areas without urban hukou.

Taking Fujian province as a case study, this paper analyses the spatial patterns and driving forces of uneven dual-track urbanisation in the reform period using a novel approach based on the employment sector for urbanisation study. This paper extends the previous work on dual-track urbanisation by examining the links between economic driving forces and the dual-track urbanisation. It is found that uneven dual-track urbanisation is driven by four major driving forces, including the administrative force, the general internal market force, the specific internal market force, and the external force.

Four area types based on employment structure have different levels of dual-track urbanisation. The relatively balanced levels of state-sponsored and spontaneous urbanisation are found in state-led urbanised areas and less developed areas. However, the levels of two urbanisation tracks in state-led urbanised areas far exceed other areas. Their high level of state-sponsored urbanisation is backed up by a large state-owned sector. An interesting finding is that there is also significant spontaneous urbanisation due to the rising private sector and inflow of migrant workers to main urban centres. Coastal developed areas have a high level of spontaneous urbanisation but a relatively low level of state-sponsored urbanisation. Less developed areas have low levels of both state-sponsored and spontaneous urbanisation.

The Fujian case shows that the two tracks of urbanisation have been advancing despite of the relative decline of the employment share of state-owned and collective-owned sectors. The economic sectors other than state-owned and collective-owned sectors have contributed to both tracks of urbanisation. An important policy implication is that these sectors have to improve their wage level and employment benefit for their employees. The prefectural governments should use the tax income wisely to improve social welfare to the population in the spontaneous urbanisation. Only then economic development and urbanisation can work together to realise sustainable and inclusive urbanisation in China.


Read the paper on Urban Studies - OnlineFirst here



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