Regional inequality in China: A case study of Zhejiang province

Yehua Dennis Wei, Xinyue Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Most studies on regional inequality in China are based on macro regions and provinces. Studies on intraprovincial inequality remain limited, although there is a growing literature on Guangdong and Jiangsu. Zhejiang is a leading coastal province of China experiencing rapid economic growth and has been known for its Wenzhou model of development based on private enterprises. This paper uses time-series county data to examine regional inequalities in Zhejiang from 1952 to 1998, with a focus on the reform period of 1978-98. We find that intermunicipal and intercounty inequalities in Zhejiang increased substantially, and overall inequality also increased, especially in the 1990s when more radical market reforms were implemented. While cities like Hangzhou and Ningbo have maintained their higher level of wealth, some counties, particularly coastal counties in municipalities like Wenzhou and Taizhou, have recorded dramatic growth, centred on private enterprises. However, municipalities such as Quzhou, which were favoured by Mao's industrialisation policy, recorded slower growth, as did the traditionally poorer municipalities. We have analysed the role of localities, the state, and globalisation in the changing patterns of regional development in Zhejiang, with an emphasis on local agents of development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-60
Number of pages17
JournalTijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


  • China
  • Regional inequality
  • Wenzhou model


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