AbstractThis paper examines population redistribution and urban growth in Nanjing—an ancient capital and a new Tier-1 city in China—from 1990 to 2015, focusing on the dynamic processes of urbanization and suburbanization. We rely on China’s census and survey microdata and the shift–share method to investigate population changes and spatial expansion in the city. The results show that Nanjing has been suburbanizing since the 1990s, accentuated by two distinct periods. In the 2000s, intracity migration led to urban spatial expansion and the population of the inner suburbs grew much faster than that of the city center. Urban residents moved from the city center to the inner suburbs for better living conditions. In the early 2010s, urban growth was fueled by rural–urban migration for employment and city-living after the relaxation of migration rules. Population growth was concentrated in the newly developed outer suburbs. In both periods, the suburbs were the main area of population growth, consistent with the trend of China’s traditional Tier-1 cities. Urban growth and population redistribution were led by two countervailing processes—the suburbanization of urban residents and the urbanization of rural–urban migrants. Unlike most US cities, Nanjing has kept its high population density in the city center despite the continued suburbanization. These findings illustrate the unique pattern of China’s urban growth and provide important implications for urban planning.

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