Rapid urban expansion may cause a decline in land-use efficiency and result in a series of social and ecological problems. Economic transition has significantly influenced urban land development, and provides a good perspective for analyzing changes in land-use efficiency. This paper primarily discusses the theoretical influence of economic transition on urban land-use efficiency. Using 126 cities in the Yangtze River Economic Zone as examples, we explore the spatial–temporal characteristics of changes in land-use efficiency, and estimate the relationship between land-use efficiency and economic transition with econometric models. The results show that the land-use efficiency of the Yangtze River Economic Zone has generally been improved over time, and presented significant clustering effects around urban agglomerations. Panel data analysis suggests that foreign direct investment in the globalization process and tax burdens, which were further aggravated by the reform of the responsibility and revenue assignment between local and central government, have had a significant negative effect on land-use efficiency. On the contrary, marketization, urbanization, and fiscal expenditure decentralization have exerted significant positive effects. We also found that agglomeration effects and location advantages did play a positive role in improving land-use efficiency, which accounted for the spatial inequality. This paper concludes with policy proposals to improve the intensification and economization level of urban land use.
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