It remains unclear on how industrial structure adjustment interacts with urban land use efficiency and how urbanization affects their interaction, despite its significance for urban development sustainability. We explore such interactions in China based on a panel dataset of 31 provincial administrative units from 1978 to 2018. The results show that as urbanization proceeds, the industrial structure optimization exhibits a positive linear correlation with urban land use efficiency, while the relationship between industrial structure upgrade and urban land use efficiency depends on level of urbanization, which follows an inverted U-shape. The effect of urban land use efficiency on the optimization of industrial structure is divergent across provinces. We also find that a higher level of urbanization facilitates the positive interactions between industrial structure adjustment and urban land use efficiency in the central and western regions of China, but the effect is attenuated in eastern China. We propose policy recommendations tailored to different regions with distinct levels of economic development status and industrial structure for urban development sustainability.
Urbanization (URB), defined as the increase of urban areas due to human and economic activity concentration, has proven to be the economic growth engine for many countries (Ochoa, Tan, Qian, Shen, & Moreno, 2018). Urbanization, industrial structure adjustment (ISA), and urban land use efficiency (ULUE) are interrelated and can generate synergistic effect on sustained urban growth (Cobbinah, Erdiaw-Kwasie, & Amoateng, 2015; Gret-Regamey, Celio, Klein, & Hayek, 2013; Li, Zhang, Mirzaei, Zhang, & Zhao, 2018; Wang, Gao, Wang, Lin, & Li, 2022; Wang, Zhan, & Xin, 2020; Zhang et al., 2018). Over the past 40 years, China’s rate of URB has exceeded the global average (Chen, Xu, Lan, & Jiang, 2020; Jiang & Meng, 2021). From 1978 to 2018, China’s URB rate rose from 17.9% to 59.6%, showing a rapid development trend (Liu, 2018), and is expected to raise to 70% by 2030 (Yang, 2013). Meanwhile, China’s tertiary industry output value increased from 24.6% to 53.3% in terms of total GDP from 1978 to 2018. ISA has entered relatively advanced stages of industrialization (Yi, 2013). Additionally, the development and utilization of land resources have improved the economic output of land and promoted the improvement of urban residents’ living standards and well-being.
However, maintaining the long-term sustainability of URB remains a major challenge. Rapid URB has led to issues such as homogenous industrial structure across cities and low-efficiency land use (Hamidi, Ewing, Preuss, & Dodds, 2015; Liu, Li, & Du, 2018a; Qu, Gao, & Jiang, 2005; Yin, Lin, Jiang, Qiu, & Sun, 2019; Zou, Liu, Wang, & Yang, 2021), which hinders sustained urban development characterized by high density (Bryan, Gao, Ye, Sun, & Hou, 2018; Liu, Zhang, & Zhou, 2018b; Tan, Zhang, Liu, & Xu, 2021; Wu et al., 2018). Therefore, the Chinese government adopted a new development policy of ‘new-type urbanization’ for URB, aiming to achieve urban development sustainability by adjusting industrial structure and improving ULUE (Ning, Hu, Tang, & Zeng, 2022). Hence, it is essential to understand the interplay of these driving forces for contributing to sustained urban growth while curbing urban sprawl.
Based on the panel data of 31 provinces in China from 1978 to 2018, this study applies the VAR and PVAR models to analyze the relationship among ISA, ULUE, and URB. We offered suggestions for optimizing industrial structure and improving urban land use efficiency towards urban development sustainability.
Specifically, our research has three major findings. First, the relationship between industrial structure upgrade and ULUE presents an inverted U-shaped, while the relationship between industrial structure optimization and ULUE is generally increases in the process of URB. Specifically, 35.5% of provinces are in the preliminary and middle stages of URB where industrial structure upgrade has a positive impact on ULUE, while 12.9% of provinces are in the advanced stage of URB where industrial structure upgrade has a negative effect on ULUE in China.
Second, URB has a partial mediating effect on the relationships between ISA and ULUE. In the short term, URB development would accelerate the process of ISA and promote the improvement of ULUE in China. In the long term, a higher level of URB facilitates the positive influence relationship between ISA and ULUE in the central and western regions of China, but attenuates the positive influence relationship between them in the eastern regions of China.
Finally, our findings suggest that the central and western regions can continue to promote URB, so as to improve ULUE by promoting the agglomeration of knowledge-intensive industries. The eastern region should implement the industrial structure development mode of specialization and diversification to achieve urban development sustainability.