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National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)

*2014-2015 (Year Awarded)

The location choice and spatial organization patterns of urban informal economies in big cities

Principle Investigator: Dr. Hao Pu
Amount Awarded: RMBĘD230,000

Informal economic activities are those commercial or service businesses that are not officially recorded in any national accounts for purposes of taxation or social security contributions. These activities consist of not only informal businesses located in fixed premises in rural-urban interface areas and specific urban sections such as urban villages, but also unlicensed street vendors roaming in the city core. These businesses are usually opposed by authorities because they often lead to violations of urban planning and management regulations, tax evasion, inferior products, and safety concerns. However, informal or unregulated economic developments are entrepreneurial endeavors for individuals or collectives who cannot afford fixed premises and are sources of income for those who lack access to formal jobs. They also provide affordable goods and services for the marginal groups. In order to mitigate the negative impact of informal economic activities on urban growth, this research aims at exploring the development of various types of informal economic activities in big cities in China and analysing the location choice and spatial organization patterns of these informal activities. With case studies in Shenzhen and Nanjing, the determinants of the location choice of informal economic developments will be uncovered using spatial analysis and spatial econometric models. Based on the research findings on the location choice and spatial organization patterns of informal economic developments, optimizing strategies and methodologies for urban planning and governance will be devised. The findings of this research will contribute to urban planning and policy making in coping with the current state and future development of informal urban development, and help in the effective allocation of commercial establishments, especially those businesses at the lower end of the economic spectrum.

*2013-2014 (Year Awarded)

A Time Geography Study on the Subjective Well-being of Urban Chinese: Beijing and Guangzhou in Comparison

Principle Investigator: Prof. Donggen Wang
Amount Awarded: RMBĘD600,000

Promoting citizens’ subjective wellbeing is considered an important measure to social cohesion and social sustainability. It has also become one of the most important objectives of development in Urban China today. Subjective wellbeing has been a hot topic across a variety of disciplines including psychology, economics and sociology. Though lag behind other disciplines, geographers have started to pay attention to issues related to wellbeing and life satisfaction. This proposed research intends to make a contribution to the studies on subjective wellbeing from a geography perspective. The study will adopt the time-geography framework and investigate the interrelations between individuals’ subjective wellbeing, daily activities, built environment and social network. Case studies will be conducted in Beijing and Guangzhou, respectively the representative city in Northern and Southern China. This study may open a new chapter for time geography research and provide a new perspective for China urban studies. Findings of this research may provide scientific justifications for Chinese cities to design policies with the objectives of improving citizens’ quality of life.

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