Original Articles

Urban Economic Linkage Research under the New Division of Labor

  • 1. Urban Planning and Design Institute, Shenzhen Graduate School of Peking University, Shenzhen 518055, China;
    2. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China;
    3. Peking University-Lincoln Institute Center for Urban Development and Land Policy, Beijing 100871, China

Received date: 2010-10-01

  Revised date: 2011-04-01

  Online published: 2011-08-25


The shift of urban economic linkage research is closely related to the change of urban specialization. Therefore, this paper provides a literature review on urban economic linkage from the perspective of urban specialization. In the paper, we focus on urban economic linkage theories and measurement methods, and furthermore discuss the merits and drawbacks of various approaches. According to the neoclassical theory, comparative advantage determines spatial division of labor and cities specialized in different industries. Urban economic linkage is dominated by population mobility and commodity trade linkages determined by the city size and distance. The earliest theory related to urban economic linkage is“central place theory”, proposed by Christaller in 1933 and developed by Losch in 1939. If all urban activities involved in the same degree of scale economies and transport costs, a regular lattice of equal-sized urban places shows that on a homogeneous plain there are Losch’s famous hexagonal market areas. When activities differ in scale effects and transportation costs, there would be urban areas of different types, which is argued by Christaller as a hierarchical structure. The gravity model is widely applied to estimate urban economic linkage. As economic globalization and regional integration proceed, spatial division of labor is largely determined by the secondary natural factors and the cities specialized in different functions along a value chain. Urban economic linkages have gone beyond the population migration and commodity trade, with flows of capital, information, technology, talents and services among cities. As a consequence, regional and global city networks have been developed. Correspondingly, gravity models are less suitable to study the current urban economic linkages, and network analysis is therefore widely applied in the study of urban economic linkages. For further studies, the integration of theories of urban economic linkage’s elements and the deeper discussion of the mechanism is necessary. This paper finally points some directions for further studies on China’s urban economic linkage.

Cite this article

LI Yan, HE Canfei . Urban Economic Linkage Research under the New Division of Labor[J]. PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY, 2011 , 30(8) : 986 -994 . DOI: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2011.08.005


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