This study aims to analyze and explain the factors that influence the urban form of Chinese cities through an empirical analysis of a cross-sectional dataset of 115 cities in 2000 and 2010. Four spatial metrics, including population density, a contiguity index, a fractal dimension index, and a shape index, are used to quantify urban form. The paper compares urban form across four economic zones and across cities of different sizes. Ordinary least square and first-difference regression models are used to analyze the determinants of urban form. The results show that urban sprawl in China is characterized by decreased population density and greater irregularity and complexity of urban built-up areas. Metrics, such as Gross Domestic Product, population, transportation costs, and economical structure are associated with urban form in different ways, and urban expansion based on large-scale industrialization and real estate development is unsustainable in the new era.
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