The relationship between administrative hierarchy position and city size development in China

Roger C.K. Chan, X. B. Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


China's urbanization process in the past 20 years has drawn much academic attention, and as a result, many attempts to explain the uniqueness of China's urbanization have emerged. Some argued that Tolley's model (1987), the well known theory explaining global urbanization, or the 'Murray-Szelenyi' thesis (1984), which focus on the investigation of urbanization in socialist countries, can be applied in China. Most western literature, however, claimed either a 'rural-bias' or an 'urban-bias' from the state took place in China's urbanization process. This paper suggests another perspective in the analysis of this process, as it argues that it was the state bias for the allocation of production and human resources in the cities of higher hierarchical ranking that is behind China's urbanization. The objective of the paper is to test it through two hypotheses. The first hypothesis suggests that the higher the city is in the urban hierarchy, the more population it has; and the second argues the higher administrative position a city has, the better Social and economic performance it will show. Using statistical data to validate these two hypotheses, this paper attempts to justify the role of 'state-bias' of resources allocation and the dominance of the administrative hierarchy in China's urbanization process. Lastly, the paper argues, the state itself is a major factor or source for China's urbanization development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-112
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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