Dialect Diversity, Factor Agglomeration and City Size: Empirical Test Based on Satellite Night-Time Light Data

Ding Congming (丁从明)*1 Huang Xueyang (黄雪洋) and Zhou Min (周敏)

The School of Public Policy & Administration, Chongqing University, Chongqing, China

Abstract: Since the reform and opening up program was initiated in 1978, China’s urbanization has made rapid progress, but urban development remains unbalanced and insufficient. From the perspective of social and cultural diversity, this paper explores the impact of dialect diversity on city size. Dialect diversity impedes the expansion of cities by causing a trust segmentation and impeding cross-regional factor flow and the factor agglomeration effect. Based on the regional dialect diversity indicator and the NPP-VIIRS city night-time light index of 2016, this paper offers an empirical study of the impact of dialect diversity on city size. Econometric results indicate that dialect diversity has a significantly negative impact on city size. On average, an increase of each dialect sub-category leads to a decrease in city size estimated by the night-time light index by 4.55%. Robustness test and causality identification reveal that the estimated results of this paper have a robust causal relationship. Further empirical research indicates that dialect diversity affects the expansion of city size by inhibiting the flow and agglomeration of labor, capital and technology factors. Our research suggests that the development of diverse and inclusive modern cities needs to balance the costs and benefits of cultural diversity and uniformity, break through cultural barriers, remove cultural prejudices, raise the level of social trust, and give play to the complementary effect of cultural diversity.

Keywords: dialect diversity, city size, night-time light index

JEL Classification Code: Z13, O18, R58

DOI: 10.19602/j.chinaeconomist.2021.07.09

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