The social and environmental limits of China’s urban-based model of development


Gordon McGranahan and Guoyi Han

Publication date: 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


  • Research paper


External to ACUI

Project theme: 


China’s recent economic transformation started in rural areas, but soon became a very urban phenomenon. Coastal cities became sites of innovation, where private enterprises, entrepreneurial bureaucrats and low-paid migrant workers combined to create the biggest economic growth phenomenon the world has ever seen. The manner in which growth-oriented city authorities have supplied serviced land to developers, attracted migrant workers, and engaged in high-profile boosterism has been central to China’s economic success. There have also been negative social and environmental consequences. This paper explores how urbanization has contributed to China’s economic success, and the challenge of making this urbanization more socially and environmentally beneficial.