China’s resource-based cities in the shrinking paradigm: population change, economic revitalisation, and urban liveability
Traditional planning paradigms have long concentrated on urban growth, and governance has been primarily oriented toward strengthening the role of cities as “growth machines” (Logan and Molotch, 1987). Therefore, officials, urban policymakers and planners tend to stigmatise urban shrinkage. In fact, urban growth can reach a point where the negative externalities of development dominate agglomeration economies, reducing the attractiveness of large cities. Given that certain urban problems cannot be easily solved during the growth stage, can they nevertheless be better tackled during the shrinking paradigm in urban development? With a focus on China’s resource-based cities, this research aims to identify whether shrinking cities are better than growing cities at dissolving agglomeration diseconomies and to assess current government policies in terms of their effectiveness at revitalising the local economies of resource-based cities while not sacrificing liveability. Resource-based cities have played a crucial role in China’s economic development, but they have also accumulated various pressing problems such as resource depletion (He, 2014), unbalanced industrial structures, economic downturn, unemployment and environmental pollution. Many local governments of resource-based cities are concerned about the slowdown of economic growth and focus on the economic restructuring of traditional industry (He et al., 2017). However, little is known about whether the urban liveability of these cities has been improved. This study is expected to fill the research gap and provide a broader set of policy recommendations to local governments in China. After all, there are more aspects to defining a liveable city than just economic indicators.