Regional Disparity in Urbanizing China: Empirical Study of Unbalanced Development Phenomenon of Towns in Southwest China

Ning Xiong, Siu Wai Wong, Yitian Ren, Liyin Shen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Development for townships is an important driving force for new-type urbanization of China. However, it appears that the level of the development between different towns is severely unbalanced. This unbalanced development phenomenon has resulted in various problems such as poor living environment and brain drain in less developed towns. This paper introduces a framework for examining the unbalanced development phenomenon between towns. By using the framework, the degree of unbalanced development between towns in the Southwest region of China has been investigated, and the reasons contributing to the unbalanced phenomenon are discussed in depth. Indicators for examining the level of township development are selected from three dimensions, namely, development scale, economic development level, and social development level. The data applied for analysis are collected from 16 sample towns in Southwest China. Research methods of PCA and TOPSIS are employed collectively to assist the analysis. The parameter of variable coefficient is used to measure the degree of unbalanced development between towns. Onsite surveys as well as in-depth semistructured interviews are conducted in these sample towns to support the discussions on the analysis results. The findings indicate that the unbalanced development between towns in Southwest China is very significant in economic standard and development scales, whilst the social development is reasonably balanced. Various contributing reasons for the unbalanced development phenomenon are analyzed, and it is suggested that policy-related factors have a key influence. Research findings provide government departments with valuable references to implement effective policy measures for promoting balanced development between towns in the urbanizing China.

Original languageEnglish
Article number05020013
JournalJournal of Urban Planning and Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • Mountainous townships
  • PCA
  • Southwest China
  • Township development
  • Unbalanced development
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Urban Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Regional Disparity in Urbanizing China: Empirical Study of Unbalanced Development Phenomenon of Towns in Southwest China'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this