Mansueto Institute Colloquium Series

The Mansueto Institute hosts biweekly talks during the academic year from scholars, including our postdoctoral fellows, on topics related to urban science and sustainability. Participate either in-person, where lunch is include, or via Zoom. Talks take place in Central Time, from 12:30-1:30 pm on Wednesdays at 1155 E. 60th Street on the University of Chicago campus, unless otherwise noted.

Upcoming Talks

Ming Lu

Spatial Restructuring: Urbanization and Urban Systems in China

Ming Lu, Professor of Economics at Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Thursday, June 16, 9:00 AM

Hybrid Event: 1155 E. 60th Street, Mansueto Institute Lounge (Breakfast provided), or via Zoom


China’s urbanization is fast, but its urbanization ratio is still low compared with other countries at similar development stage. Within the cities, especially the large ones, a lot of migrants do not have the local registration identity (hukou), which is linked to public services. In spite of this, people are still moving from rural to urban areas, from small cities to large ones, as the population census shows. I will propose a two-dimensional core-periphery framework to illustrate the urban system in China, where the distances to the major seaports and to the large cities determine a city’s economic geography. I also used night-light data to redefine Chinese cites, and obtained high fitness of Zipf’s Law, except that the major metropolitan areas are still too small. Econometric analysis showed that the inland-favoring policies since 2003 have reduced inter-regional disparities, but there has also been serious spatial misallocation, weakening China’s growth potential, while raising its government debt. Our recent structural estimations find that the Chinese economy can grow better if the regional policy distortions were removed. Interregional income disparity can also be narrowed if migration is more free. Fortunately, the recent policies are heading for an integrated market to improve domestic resource allocation, with the goal of “achieving relative balance through development”.