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Journal article

Regional economic development, policy and regional disparity in large territories: The case of Canada and China

1 Jan 2010

Economic convergence or divergence is a topic of considerable interest and debate, not only for validating or otherwise the two leading and competing growth models (the neoclassical and the endogenous growth approaches) but also for its policy-oriented implications. The conflicting predictions of the two alternative theoretical frameworks (endogenous versus exogenous development approaches) have given rise to an explosion of empirical studies especially since 2000.

Based on an analysis of regional development policies and statistical analyses of convergence and regional disparities, the research objectives of this thesis are to attempt to provide an explanation of the different processes and patterns of regional economic development in large territories (countries) using Canada and China as examples, to undertake an analysis of the different factors and driving forces underlying regional development in both countries, and to explore both the apparent successes and failures in regional development policy through comparing and contrasting the regional development experiences and models of these two countries. In order to achieve this objective, the research uses a multiscalar approach and multivariate measurement methods in the course of investigating regional disparities across both countries' macro regions (sub-sets of provinces), provinces and selected city regions.

The overall approach has involved: 1. Gathering statistical data for Canada and China (including provinces as well as the selected provinces of Xinjiang and Quebec) for a range of variables (see below). 2. Undertaking an analysis of each selected dimension in the two jurisdictions: Population (e.g. composition, structure, change); Resources (e.g. energy resources); Environment (e.g. pollution); and Socio-Economic Development (e.g. development and change for key economic sectors, and rural and urban development patterns), and changing disparities on these dimensions. 3. Defining a typology of different types of region based on development trajectories that are used as the basis for questioning the core-periphery hypothesis. 4. Selecting a metropolitan region in each jurisdiction. 5. Undertaking a temporal analysis of major events (policies, investment,) and the factors involved in these events in each chosen region, using statistical and documentary evidence.

This study has tried to explain the patterns and processes of both economies as well as presenting case studies which illustrate and examine the differences in both economies from the national to regional and provincial scales and for some urban areas. This study has focused on trying to answer research questions such as: Is it true that large territorial countries have larger interregional disparities? What are the results of comparisons between developed and developing countries? What are the most influential indicators (in a statistical sense) in the economic development of large territories in developed and developing countries? What are the mechanisms of convergence and divergence in large territories in developed and developing countries?

This thesis has assessed whether government policies have succeeded in inducing regional convergence or have further widened regional disparities, thus necessarily involving an evaluation of the sustainability of patterns and programmes of regional development. This study also focused on regional disparity and regional development policy, and cross-country comparisons, for measuring convergence between countries and across regions including spatial analysis, and identified the most active factors such as population, resources, policy, urbanization, migration, openness and their different roles in the economic development of large territories (in Canada and China). The empirical results and the process of convergence and divergence offered an interesting framework for examining the regional development trajectory and regional disparities in both economies.

In the introduction to the thesis, the general framework of the study is presented, followed in Chapter 1 by a discussion of the theories and concepts used in the principal theoretical literature relevant to the study. Chapter 2 outlines the research methodology. Chapter 3 presents an overall perspective of the regional economic development policies and programmes of Canada and China in different periods at different scales. In Chapter 4, cross-country convergence between Canada and China at the national scale and within country provincial convergence for each country is examined using different measurement methods such as traditional methods, and beta convergence and sigma convergence analyses. In the most complex chapter, Chapter 5, comparative analyses are presented using statistical data, moving from analyses of the two countries to analyses of the broad regions and the provincial cases retained. In Chapter 6, this is complemented by an analysis of selected urban regions which also provides some insights on the more peripheral rural regions. In this thesis, policy, population, income, employment, industrial composition, investment, trade and migration factors are also considered important factors of regional analysis given the territorial size of the two countries and the population differences between them.

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