PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2018, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (9): 1245-1256.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2018.09.007

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Analysis of the relationships between infrastructure and socioeconomic development in towns of China

Pengjun ZHAO(), Di LIU   

  1. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2018-03-15 Revised:2018-05-24 Online:2018-09-28 Published:2018-09-28
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 41571147

Abstract:

The relationship between infrastructure supply and socioeconomic development in towns is one of the key research themes in the fields of urban planning and urban geography. This relationship is a vital issue for urban planning practice and development management of towns. It is widely believed that a lack of infrastructure is one of the key factors impeding social and economic development in China's towns. However, empirical research supporting this argument is stull scarce. In particularly, an analysis at the national level is missing. This study aimed to fill the gap by using recently collected survey data from 121 towns in China. It applied grey associative analysis to identify the relationship between infrastructure and socioeconomic development in these towns. The facts, major factors, and the mechanisms for the relationship between infrastructure and socioeconomic development were analyzed. The results show that: (1) Infrastructure and socioeconomic development are significantly related with each other. The effects of socioeconomic development on infrastructure supply are stronger than the effects of infrastructure on socioeconomic development, which contradicts previous understandings; (2) The relationship between socioeconomic development and infrastructure is influenced by local economic contexts. For example, the correlations in the towns located in Northeast China are more significant, and the correlations in the towns far from megacities are stronger than those near these cities; (3) Population size and industry type also influence the relationship between the two systems. Correlations in towns with a small population or tourist towns are stronger than medium-sized towns while commerce-leading towns show greater correlations than industry-leading towns; (4) When the development quality or level is taken into account, for many towns, low level of infrastructure supply and low level of socioeconomic development coincide. In towns located in eastern China or towns that have a moderate distance to megacities, high level of infrastructure supply and high level of socioeconomic development occur at the same time; (5) For towns with a low level of socioeconomic development and infrastructure supply, insufficient infrastructure supply plays a more important role than insufficient development of socioeconomic sectors. This situation particularly happened in towns in eastern China or towns located near megacities. These findings have strong policy implications for the future development and construction of towns in China.

Key words: infrastructure supply, socioeconomic development, coordinative development, grey associative analysis, towns, China