OECD Urban Policy Reviews: China 2015

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China needs a new model of urbanisation to match the shift to a new model of growth. For decades, both urbanisation and growth have been based on robust export demand, cheap labour, cheap land and artificially low pricing of environmental externalities. None of these can support growth or urban development in the future. This review examines the major challenges associated with the shift to a new model of urbanisation, looking at a range such issues as social and labour-market policies, land use and transport planning, urban planning, urban governance and public finance. The review presents a new assessment of China’s major cities, which defines functional urban areas based on settlement patterns and commuting zones rather than cities defined as administrative units. The results show, among other things, that China has many more mega-cities, with populations above 10 million, than the official data suggest. The good news for China is that the reforms needed to foster what the authorities call “people-centred urbanisation”, while complex, are coherent with one another and supportive of the broader shift to a growth model that relies more on domestic demand and productivity growth.



Managing urbanisation in China: Migration, land and planning

This chapter looks at the major elements of Chinese urbanisation policies. It begins with an exploration of migrant integration, looking at current institutions and policies as they affect both economic efficiency and social equity, and proposing steps to facilitate smoother absorption of rural migrants in Chinese cities. This is followed by an examination of land policy, which considers the causes and consequences of the segmentation of land markets between urban and rural sectors, as well as a possible pathway towards unification of the land market. A major section focuses on the way Chinese cities are built, exploring urban planning and public transport from the perspectives of economic efficiency, social equity and environmental sustainability. Overall, the chapter emphasises the links between these three domains and it explores the potential benefits of addressing them in tandem.


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