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Open AccessArticle

Economic Growth and Expansion of China’s Urban Land Area: Evidence from Administrative Data and Night Lights, 1993–2012

Department of Economics, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2014, 6(11), 7850-7865;
Received: 22 August 2014 / Revised: 23 October 2014 / Accepted: 31 October 2014 / Published: 6 November 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Land Use and Ecosystem Management)
The relationship between economic growth, expansion of urban land area and the broader issue of cultivated land conversion in China has been closely examined for the late 1980s and 1990s. Much less is known about recent urban expansion and if the effects of economic growth on this expansion have changed over time. This paper updates estimates of urban expansion for China and examines the relationship with city economic growth for 1993–2012. To see if patterns are robust to different types of evidence, administrative data on the area of 225 urban cores are compared to estimates of brightly lit areas from remotely sensed night lights. The trend annual expansion rate in lit area is 8% and was significantly faster in the decade to 2002 than in the most recent decade. Expansion is slower according to administrative data, at just 5% per annum, with no change in unconditional expansion rates between decades, while conditional expansion rates have declined. The elasticity of area with respect to city economic output is about 0.3. Over time, expansion of urban land area is becoming less responsive to the growth of the local non-agricultural population. View Full-Text
Keywords: economic growth; land conversion; luminosity; urbanization; China economic growth; land conversion; luminosity; urbanization; China
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Gibson, J.; Li, C.; Boe-Gibson, G. Economic Growth and Expansion of China’s Urban Land Area: Evidence from Administrative Data and Night Lights, 1993–2012. Sustainability 2014, 6, 7850-7865.

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