PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2023, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (11): 2084-2098.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2023.11.002

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The impacts of the district-level administrative restructuring on urban polycentricity and balanced regional development

CHEN Youlin1,2(), YU Peiheng3,*(), WANG Lei1,2, CHEN Yiyun4   

  1. 1. School of Economics and Management, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
    2. Institute for the Development of Central China, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
    3. Department of Building and Real Estate, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong 999077, China
    4. School of Resource and Environmental Science, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430079, China
  • Received:2023-03-13 Revised:2023-07-10 Online:2023-11-28 Published:2023-11-24
  • Contact: YU Peiheng;
  • Supported by:
    Major Project of National Social Science Foundation(18ZDA040)


Administrative division adjustment as an institutional support for spatial governance is an important measure to optimize resource allocation, and it has profound effects on promoting balanced regional development. Based on the panel data of 272 cities in China from 2013 to 2021, this study used the spatial difference-in-differences method to explore the impact of district-level administrative restructuring, a special type of administrative division adjustment, on balanced regional development, and further analyzed the mediation mechanism of urban morphological polycentricity. The results show that district-level administrative restructuring is not only beneficial to promoting balanced regional development in local regions, but also has positive spatial spillover effects on neighboring regions. Mechanism analysis show that under the background of administrative division adjustment, urban form is an important driving factor for balanced regional development. Specifically, district-level administrative restructuring can reduce regional development inequality by improving the level of urban morphological polycentricity. Heterogeneity analysis show that the impact of district-level administrative restructuring on balanced regional development varies across regions. Compared to the western region, the positive effects of such restructuring on balanced regional development are more significant in the eastern and central regions. The restructuring has significant promotional effects in large cities and medium-sized cities, while the effects in mega-cities, super-large cities, and small cities are not significant. In the future, we should prudently carry out administrative division adjustment and urban spatial transformation according to the development conditions of different cities, and promote the construction of urban polycentricity by district-level administrative restructuring according to local conditions, in order to promote balanced regional development.

Key words: administrative division adjustment, urban morphological polycentricity, district-level administrative restructuring, balanced regional development, spatial difference-in-differences model, urban spatial structure