GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2018, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (11): 2153-2164.doi: 10.11821/dlyj201811003

Special Issue: 人口与城市研究

• Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Livelihood capital space of migrants in economic development zones: A case study of Nansha New District, Guangzhou

Zhenshan YANG1,2(), Yuxuan WANG3   

  1. 1. Key Lab of Regional Sustainable Development and Modelling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. Department of Geography, The University of Hong Kong, Hongkong 999077, China
  • Received:2018-06-06 Revised:2018-09-04 Online:2018-11-20 Published:2018-11-20
  • About author:

    Author: Shi Zhenqin (1988-), PhD, specialized in regional development and land space management in mountain areas. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Deng Wei (1957-), Professor, specialized in mountain environment and regional development.



Economic development zones play an important role in urban and regional development. They have become a magnet for capital and migrant flows, which stimulate various production relations, and gradually turn into new social space, with important significance to inclusive urban and regional development. Previous efforts of special economic zones, however, place great emphasis on economic development, with few considerations of social development. Although this problem has attracted much attention, there is lack of a systematic view of livelihood of migrants, which results in incomplete understanding and policy approaches to improve social inclusive development of economic development zones. With an empirical study on Nansha New District in Guangzhou, this paper attempts to establish a multidimensional analytical framework of livelihood space to facilitate an understanding of livelihood capital of migrants. The result shows that the livelihood space of migrants in the economic development zone has both expansion and compression compared to their hometowns or other areas. Migrants in Nansha have dramatically improved their livelihood. But compared to the locals, their livelihood capital is still lower. Overall, their economic space has been extended, while the policy space, public service space and residential space are compressed. The compression and extension of the livelihood space of migrants has the relationship of mutual restraint or promotion, which together constructs the unique livelihood space of migrants. The household registration system is an important influencing factor. In addition, the willingness of migrants to stay in the development zone has complex formation mechanism and livelihood capital shows little impact. Therefore, a better livelihood space of the migrants in the development zone is of great significance to improve the living conditions of industrial workers in the city and shape the development strategy of inclusive urban development. These findings can contribute to Lefebvre's theory of space production, pointing out that there is a continual process from production to social space and the latter is increasingly important.

Key words: economic development zone, migrants, livelihood space, production of space, Nansha New District