Economic development and natural amenity: An econometric analysis of urban green spaces in China

Wendy Y. Chen*, Danny T WANG

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    57 Citations (Scopus)


    Rapid urbanization and spontaneous economic development has brought about profound changes in urban landscapes throughout the world. The task of managing transforming urban landscapes, particularly urban green spaces, so as to provide sufficient natural amenity for increasing urban populations, is one of the critical challenges facing policy makers. However, little empirical evidence exists about the evolving path of urban green spaces along with economic development and urbanization. This study attempts to fill in this knowledge gap through an econometric analysis of panel data across 285 Chinese cities during a period of rapid urbanization and economic growth (2001-2010). The results point to the existence of an N-shaped environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) for an important aspect of environmental quality: urban green spaces. Urban green space coverage increases at the initial stage of economic development, and then it starts to decrease as GDP per capita exceeds RMB50,855 and then increases again at a high GDP per capita level (RMB107,558). Large elasticity (>1) is expected as GDP per capita grows to a higher level (beyond RMB128,095). By the end of 2010, 30% of Chinese cities are still located on the downward-sloping path and only four cities have attained elasticities greater than one. The findings present a challenging and pressing call for policy makers to effectively manage the tradeoffs between continuous economic development and better natural amenities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)435-442
    Number of pages8
    JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Forestry
    • Ecology
    • Soil Science

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Natural amenity
    • Transformation of natural landscape
    • Urban green space
    • Urbanization


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