GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2015, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (2): 234-246.doi: 10.11821/dlyj201502004

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The economic disparities and their spatio-temporal evolution in China since 2000

Changchun FENG1,2(), Zanrong ZENG1,2, Nana CUI1,2   

  1. 1. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Territorial Planning and Development, Ministry of Land and Resources, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2014-07-05 Revised:2014-11-18 Online:2015-02-10 Published:2015-03-17


Regional economic disparity has been a highly debated topic since the 1990s. Many domestic and foreign scholars have completed various aspects of studies in this field. The analyses of the economic disparities and their spatio-temporal evolution are of great significance for the government to generate balanced and non-balanced development strategy of regional economy. This paper integrated the methods of two-stage nested Theil decomposition and ESDA. Based on the three-level hierarchical structure (economic zone-province-district), regional disparities were decomposed into three components: the between-region, between-province and within-province components. Also, the paper explored spatial autocorrelation at the district level using ESDA method. The results showed that, (1) the economic disparities increased slightly since 2000 and then decreased continuously after 2004. The degree of within-province disparity was the highest, followed by the between-region component, while the between-province component was the lowest. (2) Compared with other economic zones, the Middle Reach of Yellow River Economic Zone, the Northeast Economic Zone, the Southwest Economic Zone and the Northeast Economic Zone had relatively great economic disparities. (3) The number of provinces with a decline within-province economic disparities was increasing. (4) China's regional economic disparities showed a significant spatial polarization trend with a rising change of HH type districts, a stable trend of LL type districts and a relatively small number of HL and LH type districts.Finally, the paper briefly analyzed the impact factors of regional economic disparities since 2000. This paper argued that the difference of Chinese regional development policy was the main macro factor, such as strategies of Western China Development, Revitalizing the Northeast Old Industrial Bases and the Rise of Central China. Location and infrastructure difference were the factors that objectively led to regional economic disparities. Differences of resource endowments were the initial factors causing economic disparities, which were also influenced by the allocation and efficiency of resource utilization. Differences of investment in fixed assets were the direct factor that contributed to economic disparities. Division of executive power was another important factor leading to the concentrated distribution of poverty zones.

Key words: Theil index, ESDA, economic disparities, China