PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (12): 2068-2082.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2020.12.009

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Change in distribution and growth shifts of population in the Yangtze River Delta and influencing factors

YAN Dongsheng1(), SUN Wei2,*(), WANG Yue3, XU Shiyao4   

  1. 1. Yangtze Industrial Economic Institute, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Watershed Geography, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, CAS, Nanjing 210008, China
    3. Modern Management Center, Shanghai 200052, China
    4. Anhui Business College, Wuhu 241002, Anhui, China
  • Received:2019-11-01 Revised:2020-08-02 Online:2020-12-28 Published:2021-02-28
  • Contact: SUN Wei;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41871119)


Population distribution is an important indicator of regional development patterns. Also, regional coordinated development is closely related to the balanced distribution of the population. In the context of the regional integration of the Yangtze River Delta as a national strategy, the population distribution across the Yangtze River Delta has undergone significant changes. Using Kernal density analysis, gravity center analysis, concentration index, and shift-share analysis methods, this study examined the spatio-temporal change characteristics of the population in the Yangtze River Delta from 2000 to 2018, and explored the influencing factors as well as internal mechanisms of population growth shifts by utilizing quantitative methods. The main conclusions are as follows: 1) The shift in the population distribution trend led by some cities did not significantly change the imbalanced pattern of regional population distribution, and the increase in the concentration index indicates that the regional population concentration showed a steady growth trend. 2) The research based on shift-share analysis found that the shift in population growth pattern was mainly manifested in the acceleration of population growth in some underdeveloped areas. For example, Anhui Province was transformed into positive growth shift at the provincial scale. On the city scale, the positive growth shift dominated by core developed cities has changed to the positive growth shift dominated by some less developed cities. The spatial distribution of positive growth shift of municipal districts changed from the core areas to the peripheral areas. However, the population was still attracted to a few large cities and municipal districts. The diversified population growth shift trend characterizes the differentiated demands for future development strategies. 3) Economic factors, social development, and financial resources were important driving forces of population growth shift in the Yangtze River Delta. However, the temporal and spatial change of influencing factors shows that the formulation of future population balancing policies not only needs to be adapted to local conditions, but also should evolve through time. This research not only provides a reference for the formulation of relevant population policies, but also enriches the empirical findings on the spatial and temporal change of population.

Key words: population distribution, growth shift, shift-share analysis method, Yangtze River Delta