Regional Disparities of China’s Economic Development during 1992-2013

―Based on DMSP/OLS Nighttime Lights Data of Cities

Liu Huajun (刘华军)
School of Economics, Shandong University of Finance and Economics, Jinan, China
Abstract: Balanced regional development is essential to China’s economic stability
and efficiency and achievement of the goal to build a moderately prosperous society in
all respects. Based on the DMSP/OLS nighttime lights data of 291 cities at or above
prefecture level during 1992-2013, this paper examines the regional disparities and trends
of Chinese mainland’s economic development. The findings are as follows: (1) During
sample observation period, China’s overall regional disparities generally declined despite
some volatility; China’s intra-regional disparities have been curbed yet a consistent
framework for inter-regional economic coordination is lacking. (2) Southern coastal region
contributes a significant share to China’s overall regional disparities as the developed cities
of Guangdong Province did not create a significant spatial spillover effect on neighboring
regions. (3) According to the result of spatial Markov transition probability estimation,
spatial factor has played a remarkable role in the evolution of China’s regional economy
and proximity to high-level regions will accelerate a region’s transition toward higher
Keywords: regional disparities, night-time data, Theil index, Kernel Density estimation,
spatial Markov chain
JEL Classification: O47; E01; O40

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