Polycentric urban development and economic productivity in China: A multiscalar analysis

Mingshu Wang, Ben Derudder, Xingjian Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


‘Urban polycentricity’ has become both a conceptual framework capturing emerging empirical realities and a spatial planning vision adopted in cities across Europe, USA, and, recently, also China. Despite the blossoming academic literature on polycentricity, only limited attempts have been made to explore whether and how polycentric urban development at different spatial scales affects the urban economy. In this paper, we empirically analyse whether and how urban polycentricity at different spatial scales in China is associated with urban economic performance. To this end, we extend the Cobb–Douglas production function and include measures of both inter-urban and intra-urban polycentricity to explain differences in labour productivity. The analysis links intra-urban monocentricity and inter-urban polycentricity with higher levels of labour productivity. In addition, the analysis points to an agglomeration spillover effect, as well as a potential weak positive interaction effect between intra- and inter-urban polycentricity. The paper concludes with policy implications for China’s spatial development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1622-1643
Number of pages22
JournalEnvironment and Planning A: Economy and Space
Issue number8
Early online date3 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • multiscalar
  • polycentric urban development
  • Polycentricity
  • productivity
  • China
  • n/a OA procedure

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