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postgraduate thesis: Accessibility and social inequality in urban China : a case study of Guangzhou

TitleAccessibility and social inequality in urban China : a case study of Guangzhou
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Yeh, AGOLi, W
Issue Date2019
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Chen, Z. [陳梓烽]. (2019). Accessibility and social inequality in urban China : a case study of Guangzhou. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractConventional facility planning, mostly adopting a utilitarianism principle, seeks to provide service facilities to meet the population demand in an aggregate manner. However, recent studies find that provision of facilities in residential neighborhoods does not necessarily mean better access for certain groups. This study approaches this issue through the lens of space-time constraints. It asserts that conventional planning approaches tend to conceptualize accessibility in terms of built environment. Whereas, beyond built environment, what has often been ignored in the planning practices is the disparity of space-time constraints of different socioeconomic groups. Therefore, this study proposes a central hypothesis: due to the multi-dimension nature of accessibility (i.e., built environment and space-time constraints), simply changing the built environment (e.g., providing more facilities) is not necessarily conducive to better service access for different social groups. Three research questions are proposed: a) What is the relationship between the disparity of income and proximity to service facilities and what affects the residential locations of the low-income population? b) Would the socio-economic differences generate various space-time constraints and magnify the inequality of service accessibility among low-income residents who reside in the same location? c) Would neighborhood facility planning (i.e., changes of built environment) diversely affects the actual service access of low-income residents with different space-time constraints? The study carries out an empirical analysis in Guangzhou, China, based on the population census data, built environment data as well as questionnaire data (activity diary data) from a field survey conducted in selected central-city and suburban neighborhoods in 2017/2018. Using place-based and space-time measures of accessibility, it first identifies the accessibility-poor areas (in terms of built environment) as well as the residents with poor service accessibility (in terms of space-time constraints) in Guangzhou. It then conducts a quasi-experiment facilitated with the propensity score matching approach, which considers the low-income residents living in the accessibility-poor areas as the control group of service density, and the low-income residents living in the accessibility-rich areas as the treatment group. By comparing the activity-travel behavior between treatment and control groups, the quasi-experiment models the effects of service density improvement of built environment on residents’ actual service access. In particular, the study conducts the quasi-experiment separately for residents with large and few space-time constraints, to examine how such effects are moderated by residents’ space-time constraints. This study contributes to the existing literature in the following five main areas. First, it finds that the inequality of accessibility could be underestimated if only conceptualized as built environment. Conventional place-based accessibility measures may not substantially explain the spatial forms in both contemporary Western cities and transitional urban China. Second, the study finds that the effects of facility provision on actual service access are moderated by the space-time constraints of different social groups, which implies that conventional neighborhood planning may privilege the advantaged residents while further marginalize the disadvantaged. Only for those who originally experience few space-time constraints, improving the neighborhood facility density is conducive to better service access. Third, it highlights how accessibility is unevenly distributed within an income class (besides between different income classes) in urban China. Low-income population living in the central-city areas enjoy high levels of accessibility as compared with those living in the suburban areas. Also, among the suburban low-income population, certain groups (e.g., male household heads) experience higher service accessibility than others due to their smaller space-time constraints. Fourth, it unravels the importance of the institutional differentiation in explaining accessibility inequality in transitional urban China. It manages to observe the accessibility disadvantages of the institutionally unprivileged groups (e.g., non-local and agricultural hukou holders, private sector workers and private housing residents). Lastly, the findings of the study yield several policy implications, including to provide more housing opportunities for the low-income residents in the central-city areas, and to incorporate time-sensitive policies into facility management. The study has potential to extend the emerging debates on whether the arguments of the New Urbanism, e.g., planning a diversity of neighborhood facilities are indeed relevant to preferable policy outcome.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectCity planning - China - Guangzhou Shi
Dept/ProgramUrban Planning and Design
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/279858

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorYeh, AGO-
dc.contributor.advisorLi, W-
dc.contributor.authorChen, Zifeng-
dc.contributor.author陳梓烽-
dc.date.accessioned2019-12-10T10:05:08Z-
dc.date.available2019-12-10T10:05:08Z-
dc.date.issued2019-
dc.identifier.citationChen, Z. [陳梓烽]. (2019). Accessibility and social inequality in urban China : a case study of Guangzhou. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/279858-
dc.description.abstractConventional facility planning, mostly adopting a utilitarianism principle, seeks to provide service facilities to meet the population demand in an aggregate manner. However, recent studies find that provision of facilities in residential neighborhoods does not necessarily mean better access for certain groups. This study approaches this issue through the lens of space-time constraints. It asserts that conventional planning approaches tend to conceptualize accessibility in terms of built environment. Whereas, beyond built environment, what has often been ignored in the planning practices is the disparity of space-time constraints of different socioeconomic groups. Therefore, this study proposes a central hypothesis: due to the multi-dimension nature of accessibility (i.e., built environment and space-time constraints), simply changing the built environment (e.g., providing more facilities) is not necessarily conducive to better service access for different social groups. Three research questions are proposed: a) What is the relationship between the disparity of income and proximity to service facilities and what affects the residential locations of the low-income population? b) Would the socio-economic differences generate various space-time constraints and magnify the inequality of service accessibility among low-income residents who reside in the same location? c) Would neighborhood facility planning (i.e., changes of built environment) diversely affects the actual service access of low-income residents with different space-time constraints? The study carries out an empirical analysis in Guangzhou, China, based on the population census data, built environment data as well as questionnaire data (activity diary data) from a field survey conducted in selected central-city and suburban neighborhoods in 2017/2018. Using place-based and space-time measures of accessibility, it first identifies the accessibility-poor areas (in terms of built environment) as well as the residents with poor service accessibility (in terms of space-time constraints) in Guangzhou. It then conducts a quasi-experiment facilitated with the propensity score matching approach, which considers the low-income residents living in the accessibility-poor areas as the control group of service density, and the low-income residents living in the accessibility-rich areas as the treatment group. By comparing the activity-travel behavior between treatment and control groups, the quasi-experiment models the effects of service density improvement of built environment on residents’ actual service access. In particular, the study conducts the quasi-experiment separately for residents with large and few space-time constraints, to examine how such effects are moderated by residents’ space-time constraints. This study contributes to the existing literature in the following five main areas. First, it finds that the inequality of accessibility could be underestimated if only conceptualized as built environment. Conventional place-based accessibility measures may not substantially explain the spatial forms in both contemporary Western cities and transitional urban China. Second, the study finds that the effects of facility provision on actual service access are moderated by the space-time constraints of different social groups, which implies that conventional neighborhood planning may privilege the advantaged residents while further marginalize the disadvantaged. Only for those who originally experience few space-time constraints, improving the neighborhood facility density is conducive to better service access. Third, it highlights how accessibility is unevenly distributed within an income class (besides between different income classes) in urban China. Low-income population living in the central-city areas enjoy high levels of accessibility as compared with those living in the suburban areas. Also, among the suburban low-income population, certain groups (e.g., male household heads) experience higher service accessibility than others due to their smaller space-time constraints. Fourth, it unravels the importance of the institutional differentiation in explaining accessibility inequality in transitional urban China. It manages to observe the accessibility disadvantages of the institutionally unprivileged groups (e.g., non-local and agricultural hukou holders, private sector workers and private housing residents). Lastly, the findings of the study yield several policy implications, including to provide more housing opportunities for the low-income residents in the central-city areas, and to incorporate time-sensitive policies into facility management. The study has potential to extend the emerging debates on whether the arguments of the New Urbanism, e.g., planning a diversity of neighborhood facilities are indeed relevant to preferable policy outcome.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subject.lcshCity planning - China - Guangzhou Shi-
dc.titleAccessibility and social inequality in urban China : a case study of Guangzhou-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineUrban Planning and Design-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.date.hkucongregation2019-
dc.identifier.mmsid991044168863503414-

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