Urbanization and its impacts on the urban spatial pattern in the economic reform era (1978-present) : a case study of Shanghai, China

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Since 1978 the Chinese government has relaxed its control on economic development. Differential economic reform policies within the country divided China into three regions based on level of economic development: the coast, central China, and the west. Of these regions, the coastal region became a development priority during the early economic reform era. Cities in coastal areas benefit from the central government's reform policies. Among the coastal cities, Shanghai is a unique example of China's urbanization process. Throughout its history, Shanghai has played different roles: a fishing village, a sea port, a treaty port, a socialist city, a post-reform city, and a global city. Before focusing on Shanghai's development in the economic reform era (1978-present), a brief introduction to Shanghai's economic and population development is presented, dividing its history into periods of: before 1840, the foreign settlement era (1840-1943), the Nationalist Government era (1927-1949) and the Maoist period (1949-1976). This thesis investigates the urbanization process of Shanghai through examining economic restructuring and migration as the primary driving forces in changing Shanghai's industrial and population patterns in the economic reform era. A description of Shanghai's commercial, industrial and residential land uses in the economic reform era is provided as well as an examination of the impacts of economic restructuring and migration. Globalization as a trend is also shaping Shanghai's landscape.




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