China Population and Development Studies

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 45–66 | Cite as

In Situ Urbanization in China: Processes, Contributing Factors, and Policy Implications

Open Access


Based on a review of existing literature and government documents, an analysis of official statistics, and case studies of both coastal and inland regions in several provinces (especially Fujian Province), this paper provides a systematic examination of in situ urbanization in China. The paper first reviews the processes of in situ urbanization and its importance in China’s overall urbanization process, and then examines various factors and mechanisms contributing to its emergence and development. The paper further looks at the changing trends of in situ urbanization in both the coastal and inland regions in China, and discusses the challenges and opportunities these pose, paying particular attention to their implications for the development of areas that have experienced outmigration in the context of the emerging trend of return migration. The paper concludes with a discussion on planning and policy implications of in situ urbanization for China in the context of its National New-type Urbanization Plan, and for other developing countries with similar conditions, and calls for a new developmental approach incorporating migration and in situ urbanization into an integrated framework.

Key words

in situ urbanization migration policies inland region coastal region China 



This paper is partly based on research supported by the Major Project of National Social Science Fund of China (No. 16ZDA088) and the Project of Economic and Social Research Council of UK (Grant Ref: ES/L005700/1). The authors would like to acknowledge with gratitude the support from NSSFC and ESRC.


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© China Population and Development Research Center 2015

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Asian Demographic Research InstituteShanghai UniversityChina
  2. 2.Center for Population and Development ResearchFujian Normal UniversityChina

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