The varying effects of accessing high-speed rail system on China's county development: A geographically weighted panel regression analysis

Danlin Yu, Yaojun Zhang, Xiwei Wu, Ding Li, Guangdong Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The construction of high-speed rail in China was initiated to answer increasing demand for fast and convenient transportation systems connecting large economic centers. After the first high-speed rail was open for operation and the initial adjustment period, access to high-speed rail starts to bring fundamental changes in regional economic operation modes in China and drastically increase interconnectivity among places that are used to be farther apart. It is commonly understood that access to HSR will have significant impact on economic development. It is, however, also quite possible that the benefits to economic development brought by HSR will have a diminishing marginal effect. That is to say, the benefits brought by HSR to economic development tend to be the greatest when access to HSR is scarce. The benefits will decrease once access to HSR becomes more frequent. With data of HSR stations distribution and a set of panel data of socioeconomic information at county-level from 2008 – 2015 in China, this study creates four HSR accessibility indices and attempts to provide insights on how access to the HSR system supports China's county-level development. The first one simply measures the geographic distributions of HSR stations and feed the data to a global spatial panel model to investigate whether the presence of an HSR station will have significant impact on county development. The second one directly measures the accessibility to HSR based on road network travel time. The third one measures a Euclidean distance from the geometric center of the county to the nearest HSR station. The fourth one is an inclusive and inversed distance measure attempting to capture HSR's geographic influence. The last three indices will be used in a geographically weighted panel regression model to test the potential varying relationships between HSR accessibility and county development, controlling other socioeconomic factors. Our results suggest that on average the presence of an HSR station suggests about 2.7 % increase of that county's per capita GDP. The geographically weighted panel regression suggests that in places where HSR is sparsely distributed (access to HSR is scarce and less frequent), the relationship between HSR accessibility and GDP per capita is significant and positive. In places where HSR is densely distributed (access to HSR is more frequent), the relationship is less apparent. The current study explores the distribution of HSR and its contribution to county development in China. We hope the results will offer significant insights of the relationships between infrastructure construction and county economic development in both China and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104935
JournalLand Use Policy
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • China
  • County level analysis
  • Geographically weighted panel regression
  • High-speed rail
  • Spatial analysis


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