In 2016, the city of Hangzhou was selected by United Nations Habitat and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy to participate in a pilot project to develop the initial prototypes of a global municipal database that could present the first integrated view of urban planning and fiscal information for a global network of cities. The project was inspired by the realization that the fiscal health of municipalities, and the alignment of urban planning and public finance functions, are important to enabling the success of city leaders facing the challenges of sustainable urbanization.

The principal unit of analysis for this project is the city. An original data gathering effort documented the framework of fiscal governance for the city, its demographic profile, and then incorporated data on the quantity and quality of urban expansion occurring across the city’s jurisdiction, urban layouts, and key land-use planning indicators. External sources were also leveraged to incorporate a national macro-level context for the intergovernmental framework that each city operates in.

By starting with the city as the unit of analysis, the project is designed to fill an important vacuum and improve the micro-level understanding of a city’s framework of public finance and urban planning. Expanding access and transparency to this information will enable the appraisal of the strengths or weaknesses in the trajectory of a city, and help national, subnational, and local governments identify interventions that can improve the performance of core municipal systems. The initial presentation of select components being developed for this integrated approach for the city of Hangzhou appear below.

Hangzhou Summary

Hangzhou is located in the Zhejiang province in the country of China. China has a decentralized fiscal system coupled with a highly centralized political system. Its fiscal system contains five hierarchical government levels: central, provincial, prefecture, county, and township. As of 2015, the system has one central government, 34 provinces and provincial-level administrative regions, 334 prefectures and prefecture-level administration regions, 2850 counties and county-level administrative regions, 39789 townships, and township-level administrative regions.

The municipality of Hangzhou (as opposed to the prefecture of Hangzhou city) initially included eight districts (Shangcheng District, Xiacheng District, Jianggan District, Gongshu District, Xihu District, Binjiang District, Xiaoshan District, Yuhang District). In December of 2014, the boundary of the municipality of Hangzhou changed when Fuyang city was canceled and combined into the municipality of Hangzhou, increasing its composition to nine districts.

Zhejiang province adopts the Province-Governing-County fiscal system, under which county-level governments interact directly with the provincial government, and are responsible for most public services within their

boundaries. This, coupled with the broader framework of fiscal decentralization in China, are principal sources of the fiscal framework of governance for the municipality of Hangzhou.

The legal framework of fiscal governance in China operates pursuant to several laws. The budget law establishes the legal norms and enabling framework for raising, distributing, managing, and using budgeted funds. Tax laws establish the authority to raise own-source tax revenues from citizens by the government, and the distribution of taxing power between central and local governments. The law governing the administration of state owned assets regulates the rules surrounding the possession, use, disposal, and the proceeds of state-owned assets.

Over the past few decades in Hangzhou, the urban extent and its population has been growing. Urban extent is the combined built-up area and open space associated with a city (not limited to its administrative boundary). From 1990 to 2013, the urban extent of Hangzhou has grown by over 360,000 hectares and the population in the urban extent has increased over 15,000%.


Population in the Urban Extent1

489,900 Hectares

City Area2

372,189 Hectares

Urban Extent3

Expenditure Mandates Framework

A qualitative framework for analyzing the expenditure responsibilities that have been devolved to the city from higher levels of government is presented here. Expenditure responsibilities by function are the core indicators of this framework. This is intended to enable an analysis regarding the suitability of the city's fiscal decentralization framework to generate the necessary resources to finance the city's service and expenditure needs. For expanded information on these indicators and the role they play in city analysis generally in the context of this project, read our Data Governance, Methodology & Sources Document.

Revenue & Resource Mobilization Fiscal Framework

A qualitative framework for analyzing how cities facing the challenge of providing public goods, citizen services, and maintaining public infrastructure can raise and diversify revenues and capital to manage their obligations is presented here. Own-source revenues, intergovernmental transfers, borrowing authority, select indicators of land value capture, and others, are at the core of this framework. For expanded information on these indicators and the role they play in city analysis generally in the context of this project, read our Data Governance, Methodology & Sources Document.

Urbanization Indicators Framework

A framework for analyzing the changing spatial character of urbanization, for the city and its surrounding jurisdiction, are presented here. The focus is on the city’s geographic urban extent – meaning the characteristics that are present within the relatively contiguous built-up areas (and their open spaces) extending over the formal administrative boundaries of the city into areas one might associate with a metropolitan area. Population, density, and other indicators are at the core of this framework. For expanded information on the indicators in this diagram from the Atlas of Urban Expansion, read our Data Governance, Methodology & Sources Document.

Urban Spatial Structure Indicators

A selection of indicators that can support leaders planning for future urbanization are presented here. The indicators enable an analysis of urban sprawl, city compactness, land use fragmentation, and other aspects of urbanization. Additional indicators (land ownership patterns, land-use planning practice indicators, prices, key attributes of different types of residential plots, houses, and apartments, among others) are also part of the framework. For expanded information on these indicators and the other Urbanization and Urban Planning indicators that appear in this diagram from the Atlas of Urban Expansion, read our Data Governance, Methodology & Sources Document.

1 Data is presented for 2013. Source: Atlas of Urban Expansion
2 Data is presented for 2015.
3 Data is presented for 2013; Source: Atlas of Urban Expansion