Strategic interaction in municipal governments' provision of public green spaces: A dynamic spatial panel data analysis in transitional China

Y. Wendy CHEN, Zhiyong HU, Xun LI, Junyi HUA

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


A wide range of benefits can be provided by urban green spaces to enhance urban dwellers' social, economic and environmental welfare, and secure urban ecosystem resilience. With the increasing recognition of these benefits, municipal governments might provide urban public green spaces (UPGS) in a strategic manner to upgrade local landscape amenities so as to make their cities more attractive compared with their neighbors and boost economic growth. Based on a panel dataset of China's cities at the prefecture-level and above over the period of 2002 to 2014, this study explores the strategic interaction amongst municipal governments in providing green spaces for the general public. A novel and powerful econometric tool, the dynamic spatial Durbin model with city and time-period fixed effects, is applied to test for spatial interaction effects. The results depict a confirmative picture of the strategic interactions amongst China's municipal governments. Specifically, cities tend to mimic their neighbors and provide more UPGS as a response to the increase of UPGS provision in their neighboring cities across the whole country. Economic development, average income level, urban population growth, and urban land availability exhibit strong positive direct effects on UPGS provision in a short time-span, suggesting that municipal governments' decisions regarding UPGS provision tend to be myopic. Regional variations indicate that municipal governments in the eastern and central regions are actively involved in strategic interaction in providing UPGS, while those in the western region are not. The results illustrate that UPGS provision serves as a metric for evaluating local officials' performance complementary to the overwhelmingly-believed economic-performance based political competition, which reasonably benefits urban residents' environmental welfare in transitional China. However, a general lack of far-sighted greening perspective and inter-city synergy might engender some risks regarding the long-term resilience and stability of urban ecosystems and broad social efficiency. This study sheds light on the co-evolutionary dynamics of social and bio-physical systems, and specifically provides a scientific basis for region-specific policy making to achieve socially optimal UPGS provision in China. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Early online dateJul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


panel data
data analysis
urban ecosystem
green space
Panel data analysis
Strategic interaction
Municipal government
ecosystem resilience
urban population
regional difference
policy making


Chen, W. Y., Hu, F. Z. Y., Li, X., & Hua, J. (2017). Strategic interaction in municipal governments' provision of public green spaces: A dynamic spatial panel data analysis in transitional China. Cities, 71, 1-10.


  • Urban public green space
  • Municipal government
  • Strategic interaction
  • Dynamic spatial panel data model
  • Yardstick competition
  • Transitional China