PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (6): 999-1011.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2022.06.005

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Spatial pattern and influencing factors of small town population and economic growth and contraction in the Yellow River Basin

ZHANG Mengmeng1(), ZHANG Lijun1,*(), QIN Yaochen1,2, YANG Xiaowan1, TIAN Mengnan1, LIU Xiufang1   

  1. 1. College of Geography and Environmental Science, Key Laboratory of Geospatial Technology for the Middle and Lower Yellow River Regions, Henan University, Kaifeng 475004, Henan, China
    2. Key Research Institute of Yellow River Civilization and Sustainable Development & Collaborative Innovation Center on Yellow River Civilization, Henan Province and Ministry of Education, Henan University, Kaifeng 475004, Henan, China
  • Received:2021-10-20 Revised:2022-01-27 Online:2022-06-28 Published:2022-08-28
  • Contact: ZHANG Lijun;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(42071294);National Natural Science Foundation of China(42171295);Provincial Natural Sci-ence Foundation for Outstanding Scholars of Henan(222300420030);Philosophy and Social Science Planning Project of Henan Province(2020BJJ019);Humanities and Social Science Research Project of the Higher Education of Henan Province(2021-ZDJH-057)


The growth and contraction of small towns have attracted great attention in the process of regional transformation. However, the criteria for distinguishing growth and contraction of small towns lack clarity, and the research on transformation mechanism is relatively limited. Therefore, this study proposed a criterion for identifying the types of growth and contraction for small towns based on statistical data and NPP/VIIRS series remote sensing data. It established a heuristic analytical framework to analyze the driving forces, results, and responses for demographic and economic transitions in 5268 small towns in the Yellow River Basin. The results show that growth and contraction of population and economy coexist for small towns. Small towns with population reduction are mainly concentrated in the "Jiziwan" areas, while small towns with economic contraction are mainly located in the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River Basin. The Guanzhong, Zhongyuan, and Shandong Peninsula urban agglomerations are the core areas with population and economic growth. The small towns can be divided into four types according to their population and economic change: sustained growth (6.4%), transitional growth (5.8%), slow growth (42.4%), and sustained contraction (45.4%). The small towns in technology-intensive and labor-intensive cities showed obvious growth trend, while contracting small towns accounted for a large proportion of resource-oriented cities. Multiple thresholds of natural conditions indicate that small towns in both plain and high-altitude areas have growth advantages. Scale economies and location advantage can promote the growth of small towns as a whole, but trickle-down effect and externality will cause the contraction of some small towns. Hence, small towns with different growth and contraction types should explore various transformation paths according to the local conditions.

Key words: growth and contraction, NPP/VIIRS data, generalized additive model, Yellow River Basin