For the past two decades, China’s urbanization has attracted increasing attention from scholars around the world. Numerous insightful studies have attempted to determine the socioeconomic causes of the rapid urban growth in Chinese cities. However, most of these studies regarded each city as a single entity, with few considering inter-city relationships. The present study uses a gravity-based model to measure the spatial interaction among city clusters in the Wuhan urban agglomeration (WUA), which is one of China’s most rapidly urbanizing regions. The effects of spatial interaction on urban growth area were also analyzed. Empirical results indicate that, similar to urban population or employment in secondary and tertiary industries in the WUA from 2000 to 2005, the spatial interaction among city clusters is one of the main drivers of urban growth. In fact, this study finds the effects of spatial interaction as the only socioeconomic factor that affected the spatial expansion from 2005 to 2010. This finding suggests that population migration and information and commodity flows showed greater influence than the socioeconomic drivers of each city did on promoting urbanization in the WUA during this period. We thus argue that spatial interaction among city clusters should be a consideration in future regional planning.
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