Based on the convergence theory of economic growth, this paper extends this concept to the human development index and carries out an empirical analysis of regional development in China between 1997 and 2006. Our research shows that the conditional convergence has been identified. Investment in fixed assets, government expenditure on education, health and infrastructure construction have positive effects on regional convergence of social development. Population weighted analysis of human development index provides support for weak convergence amongst provinces. Analysis of dynamics of regional distribution reveals the club convergence, which indicate two different convergence states. Central China is in the shade and lags behind, giving rise to the so-called “central downfall”. To solve this problem, the “Rise of Central China” Plan is necessary to promote the connection between coastal and inland regions of China and reduce the regional development gap.
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