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Development zones and urban economic performance in China: Direct impact and channel effects

Zehong Wang, Shaojian Wang, Jieyu Wang and Yuqu Wang

Growth and Change, 2022, vol. 53, issue 4, 1762-1782

Abstract: Development zones constitute a special type of place‐based policy that has been implemented worldwide. As an essential economic development engine, Chinese National Economic and Technological Development Zones (NETDZs) are perceived as a successful example. However, few studies have looked into the channel effects at work in development zones concerning industrialization and urbanization, despite the crucial nature of such effects with regard to sustainable development of development zones. Following a brief description of NETDZs and their theoretical mechanisms with urban economic performance, industrialization, and urbanization, this study used a simultaneous equation model to generate empirical evidence of the impact of the establishment of NETDZs on urban economic performance and its channel effects through industrialization and urbanization. The results confirm that NETDZs exerts a positive and significant impact on urban economic performance, and NETDZs also show indirect influence in urban growth through urbanization. Although significant and positive intermediation of industrialization remains invalid, foreign direct investment and investment in fixed assets are still crucial in Chinese industrialization. Both industrialization and urbanization play an important role in Chinese urban economic development. Meanwhile, compared with eastern regions more influenced by urbanization, industrialization still acts as a major impetus in inland China.

Date: 2022
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