Measuring Growth and Shrinkage in a Rapidly Urbanized Area: The Case of Dongguan

  • Xun LiEmail author
  • Zhiwei Du
Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)


Urban shrinkage is a global phenomenon which has aroused widespread concern about modern urban shrinkage from researchers across the world. Due to China’s rapid economic growth since the reform and opening-up, the Pearl River Delta (PRD) is now recognized as a typical area of rapid urbanization, and has continually attracted the attention of economic geographers and urban planners. However, after the 2008 global financial crisis, a new spatial phenomenon has been occurring in the PRD, synchronically involving general growth and partial shrinkage in the same city area. Based on the vacancy caused by the outflow of development factors (i.e., capital and labor), this paper combines the two dimensions of economy and population to develop a judgment matrix to be used in measuring urban growth and shrinkage. Moreover, by identifying four patterns of urban growth and shrinkage (growing cities, transitional cities, population centers, and shrinking cities), we are able to determine the trajectory changes and spatial distribution of growing and shrinking townships in Dongguan City. Conclusions and avenues for future research are also discussed.


Urbanization Shrinking city Spatial pattern Pearl river delta Dongguan China 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography and PlanningSun Yat-Sen UniversityGuangzhou, GuangdongChina
  2. 2.Guangzhou Institute of GeographyGuangzhou, GuangdongChina

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