Urban development in China has attracted considerable scholarly attention. However, more work is still needed to examine and understand the mechanisms of urban land expansion, especially within the context of globalization/marketization, decentralization and urbanization. This paper analyzes urban land expansion and structural changes in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD). We find that cities in the YRD are experiencing urban land expansion mainly characterized by the growth of residential and industrial land. The dominant characteristics of urban land expansion in cities have also varied within different development and administrative levels. Based on our conceptual framework, we have used multi-models to investigate the driving forces of urban land expansion and structural changes in the YRD. The results reveal that six influencing factors—foreign direct investment (FDI), labor, government competition, institution, population, and job-housing relations—facilitate land use change in the economic transition process. However, their impacts differ in cities in different geographical locations, as well as with different administrative levels. Finally, this paper discusses policies to promote sustainable urban land use in the YRD.
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