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Regional Sustainability

Abstract

Urban agglomeration has become the main form of regional spatial organization in China. While most of the existing studies of urban agglomeration in China have focused on the eastern coastal areas, urban agglomeration with mid-level development in the rest of the country has been overlooked. To better understand the urbanization process of the mid-level developing urban agglomeration, this study investigated the clustering pattern and the drivers of both urban population and firm dynamics during 2005–2015 in the Changsha-Zhuzhou-Xiangtan (Chang-Zhu-Tan) urban agglomeration of China using the methods of kernel density estimation and geographic detection. Our results show that centralization was obvious, although decentralization also occurred in Chang-Zhu-Tan, and that the spatial agglomeration was promoted by several factors, such as administrative resources, location advantage, labor cost, and consumption capacity. Some problems hindering the development of this region were also discovered: administrative resources played a critical role in urbanization because small towns and villages did not receive enough attention, and the effect of local policy was not as beneficial as expected. These findings partly explain the relatively slow development of mid-level developing urban agglomerations and have important implications for promoting healthier urbanization.

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