Numerous studies have explored the drivers and consequences of the expansion of urban areas. However, limited research has been conducted on the land development of cities based on the different developmental stages. Therefore, using land transaction records obtained by Python in the land market of China during the 2011–2015 period, this study explores the factors affecting the land development process in 289 cities at five different stages of economic development. The development stages are identified by combing per capita GDP and the industrial structure in the 289 cities in 2015. The stages of economic development are the primary production stage (PPS), primary industrialization stage (PIS), middle industrialization stage (MIS), later industrialization stage (LIS), and developed stage (DS). The results reveal that with the advance of regional development stage, the scale of land development increases. We also find that, in general, the proportions of residential and public management-service land development projects increases, whereas the proportion of transportation land development projects decreases. The proportions of industrial-mining-warehouse land development projects first increases and then decreases, and there is no significant change in the proportion of land used for commercial land development projects. Regression analyses of panel data indicate that various factors have different effects on land development at five developmental stages, although the positive effects of domestic fixed asset investment on land development are always strongest. The results can contribute to our understanding of land development patterns in different stages of development and local governments in China, and thus to the formulation of reasonable annual land development plans.

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