The Annals of Regional Science

, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 327–350 | Cite as

Regional convergence clubs in China: identification and conditioning factors

  • Weili Zhang
  • Wei XuEmail author
  • Xiaoye Wang
Original Paper


This paper investigates club convergence in income per capita of 329 prefecture-level city regions in China over a period of 1990 to 2014. A nonlinear time-varying factor model is adopted to examine convergence trends as the model allows for transitional heterogeneity and divergence from the actual growth path. The study further explores the driving forces of convergence clubs using an ordered response model. Four convergence clubs are identified, showing no geographic regularity in club member locations. The highest income club and the lowest income club tend to converge strongly, whereas two middle-income clubs converge weakly. The findings indicate that initial conditions, sectorial characteristics, preferential development policy, general government spending, network effect, spatial effect, and the role of globalization are the significant factors responsible for the formation of club convergence in China.

JEL Classification

O47 C23 R11 


Authors’ contributions

Weili Zhang and Wei Xu co-designed and performed the research. Weili Zhang provided the method of data analysis, Wei Xu modified the draft, and Xiaoye Wang designed our program. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number 41771124), the Humanities and Social Sciences Research Fund of Ministry of Education in China (Grant Number 17YJC790198), the philosophy and social science program in Henan province of China (Grant Number 2017BJJ009), Young Top-notch Talent Program of Henan University of Economics and Law (Grant Number hncjzfdxqnbjrc201602), and Outstanding scholars of philosophy and Social Sciences in Colleges and Universities of Henan province (2015-YXXZ-17).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Author Weili declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author Wei declares that he has no conflict of interest. Author Xiaoye declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Resource and Environments, Collaborative Innovation Center of Urban- Rural Coordinated Development in HenanHenan University of Economics and LawZhengzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Geography, The Prentice Institute for Global Population and EconomyUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada
  3. 3.College of EconomicsHenan University of Economics and LawZhengzhouChina

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