From an evolutionary perspective, the functional and hierarchical organization of cities systems is driven by the influential hierarchical diffusion of innovations, which are first captured by the largest cities and then adopted by the smaller towns as they become common then more or less obsolete. Such regularities can be expressed through the formalism of scaling laws, which reflects the distribution of economic activities according to the size of cities. In this context, the presentation focuses on scaling laws in China on the 640 Chinese cities of more than 100,000 inhabitants, in 1990, 2000 and 2010. Because of the crucial importance to establish solid and replicable results from sound data that are comparable and standardized, this analyze is based for the first time on harmonized data (ChinaCities database, Swerts 2013), built according to the principle of urban agglomeration, adjusting delineations of built-up areas collected on satellite images on the administrative grid of the districts units. Our investigation is based on the possible expression of scaling laws as mathematical relationships between the population size of large numbers of cities and a variety of their activities. The results highlight slight variations between China and other regions as Europe and United States that can be related to their stage in industrialization process, the governance mode and the control of economy.


Elfie Swerts

Territorial Intelligence for Multi-level Equity and Sustainability e-session