Beyond convergence: Space, scale, and regional inequality in China

Y. H.Dennis Wei, Xinyue Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Since the late 1980s there has been a renewed interest in regional inequality, fuelled by the concern over the effects of globalisation and liberalisation, and facilitated by theoretical and methodological developments in geography and economics. In essence, the new convergence theory, like the old convergence theory, is another theory devoid of space and time. Research on China has unfolded a complex landscape of regional development, the existence of distinct models of regional development, and the significant role of institutions. This paper examines regional inequality in China, especially Zhejiang Province, and attempts to uncover the trend and driving forces of regional inequality. It adopts a top-down and bottom-up strategy and employs recent developments in exploratory spatial data analysis (ESDA) and geographically weighted regression (GWR). We have found that regional inequality is sensitive to geographic scales and spatial organisation, and that conventional approaches mask spatial agglomeration and the significance of regions in shaping trends of regional inequality. Overall, regional inequality in Zhejiang rose during the reform period and a division between coastal and interior Zhejiang formed, additionally sustained by weak linkages between the two regions and the significance of location and nonstate enterprises in development. This paper further reveals the emergence of Wenzhou, and discusses its effect on regional inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-80
Number of pages22
JournalTijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


  • China
  • ESDA
  • GWR
  • Regional inequality
  • The Wenzhou model


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