GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2016, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (2): 337-352.doi: 10.11821/dlyj201602011

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Spatial pattern of economic carrying capacity of cities at prefecture level and above in China

Qianbin DI(), Shuaishuai HAN, Zenglin HAN   

  1. Center for Studies of Marine Economy and Sustainable Development of Liaoning Normal University, Dalian 116029, Liaoning, China
  • Received:2015-08-04 Revised:2015-12-16 Online:2016-02-20 Published:2016-02-20


Carrying capacity of urban economy is based on the concept of sustainable development. It refers to the capability of the enormous system of a given urban economy to carry the largest scale of economy when the urban economy develops to its full potential within the limits of resource conditions and environmental capacity. From the point of view of economy, economic carrying capacity takes into account both the consistency of the developing level and developing speed and the consistency of economic development and social progress. Using the Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA) and statistical global trend analysis, we analyze the spatial pattern of economic carrying capacity of 288 cities at prefecture level and above in China, based on which the driving path and enhancement strategy of urban economic carrying capacity are concluded. Through the analysis of the spatial pattern differentiation of urban economic carrying capacity, the study proposes some suggestions for urban construction adjustment. According to the analysis, spatial distribution pattern of urban economic carrying capacity of the cities at prefecture level and above in China shows the following features: ① The spatial distribution of urban economic carrying capacity demonstrates a tendency of gradually descending following the three geographical regions of the East, the Middle and the West. And the high-to-low decreasing rates of the cities' scores show a trend of fast-slow-fast. ② Spatial distribution of the carrying capacity of urban economies is characterized by a weak positive spatial autocorrelation. There are many H-H types in the hot regions, while the H-L and L-H types are present in cold regions mostly. The heat decreases gradually from the southeast coastal region to the northwest inland region. ③ There are spatial disparities of the urban economic carrying capacity between the East and the West, while there are disparities of economic development between the South and the North. And the development stages from backward to advanced are in accordance with the spatial pattern of the East, the Middle and the West. ④There are three main ways to improve the urban economic carrying capacity, that is, the driving path of resource environment, driving path of economy & society and the driving path of policy and talent. In addition, economic location, talented personnel, the environment and the infrastructure are the factors that influence urban economic carrying capacity. The measures to improve urban economic carrying capacity are as follows, optimizing resource utilization and environmental protection, developing transportation industry, encouraging outside capital investment in the urban economy, and actively integrating into the national economy and regional development strategy.

Key words: cities at prefecture level and above, urban economic carrying capacity, exploratory spatial data analysis, spatial pattern, driving path