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Does urbanization always lead to rural hollowing? Assessing the spatio-temporal variations in this relationship at the county level in China 2000–2015

Zhang, Ruijuan, Jiang, Guanghui, Zhang, Qiang
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.220 pp. 9-22
autocorrelation, decision making, models, spatial variation, temporal variation, urbanization, China
The assessment of the spatial and temporal variations in the relationship between rural hollowing and urbanization is necessary for policy-making related to coordinating urban-rural development in counties with different levels and modes of urbanization. Based on county-level data in China from 2000 to 2015, this paper measured the urbanization rates and the rural hollowing index of counties and investigated the spatial and temporal variations in this relationship by spatial autocorrelation analysis and a coupling coordination degree model. The results show that (1) Positive correlations between urbanization and rural hollowing were found in overall, however, from the different stages of urbanization, differences were observed between this correlation. (2) Rural hollowing was positively spatially correlated with urbanization globally, but from a local perspective, four distinct patterns of local correlations existed between urbanization and rural hollowing. (3) The relationship between urbanization and rural hollowing changed from a slightly imbalanced coupling to a moderately balanced coupling, and specific spatial variations were identified. In particular, the degree of seriously imbalanced coupling is still increasing in the eastern and central inter-provincial border areas. (4) The dynamic relationship between urbanization and rural hollowing in China is illustrated by an inverted U-shaped curve due to the variations in the spatial distributions and temporal variances. Considering that most counties appear on the left side of the curve and are confronted with challenges that accelerate urbanization and rural hollowing in an urban-biased way, we suggest that decision makers incorporate suitable urbanization modes and comprehensive rural consolidation tools to boost urban-rural coordinated development.