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CHEN Xiaohong, ZHANG Mingxuan, WANG Ying, XU Xiaoqing, LIU Shuang, MA Lingyu. Coupling and Coordination Characteristics and Influencing Factors of the Livable Environment System for the Elderly in China. Chinese Geographical Science doi:  10.1007/s11769-022-1283-3
Citation: CHEN Xiaohong, ZHANG Mingxuan, WANG Ying, XU Xiaoqing, LIU Shuang, MA Lingyu. Coupling and Coordination Characteristics and Influencing Factors of the Livable Environment System for the Elderly in China. Chinese Geographical Science doi:  10.1007/s11769-022-1283-3

Coupling and Coordination Characteristics and Influencing Factors of the Livable Environment System for the Elderly in China

doi: 10.1007/s11769-022-1283-3
Funds:  Under the auspices of Natural Science Foundation of Heilongjiang Province (No. LH2019D008), Youth Fund for Humanities and Social Sciences of the Ministry of Education (No. 19YJC630177), Innovative Youth Talent Cultivation Plan of Heilongjiang Provincial Universities (No. UNPYSCT-2018194), Human Civilization and Social Science Supportive Program for Excellent Young Scholars of Harbin Normal University (No. SYQ2014-06)
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  • The construction of a livable environment for the elderly is an important measure to address the challenges of aging and improve their livelihood and well-being. Based on China’s national conditions and combined with the actual development needs of the cities, it is of great significance to explore the coupling and coordination characteristics and influencing factors within the livable environment system for the elderly for the coordination and stable development. This article was based on the three subsystems of ‘living service environment, socioeconomic environment and ecological livable environment’, following the research framework of ‘process-pattern-trend-impact’, constructs an evaluation index system for the livable environment for the elderly. Entropy weight-TOPSIS evaluation model, coupling coordination degree model, center of gravity and standard deviation ellipse model and the geographic detector model were used starting from the evolution of coupling coordination types to study the spatial and temporal pattern and dynamic trend characteristics and influencing factors of internal coupling coordination types in the livable environment system for the elderly from 2010 to 2019. The results showed that: 1) The coordinated development of life service environment system and ecological livable environment system (LE) and socioeconomic environment system and ecological livable environment system (SE) in the livable environment for the elderly decreased from the intermediate coordination level coordination areas to the low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type. The overall development level of life service environment system and socioeconomic environment system (LS) was low, and it was always at a low level. 2) The coupling degree of livable environment system for the elderly was high, the coupling coordination type shown a gradually decreasing layer structure with Zhejiang, Beijing and Guangdong high-level leading demonstration areas as the axis belt. 3) The coupling coordination center of the elderly livable environment system was located in Henan, and the standard deviation ellipse was distributed in the northeast-southwest direction. The development center and the ellipse of the high-level leading demonstration areas and the intermediate coordination level areas were concentrated in the central and eastern regions, while the low-level coordination areas for improving quality and efficiency are mainly located in the western region. 4) Urban development, green facilities, infrastructure, government macroscopic regulation and control, economic stimulus, and housing construction were all important factors affecting the coordinated development of the livable environment system for the elderly, exerting a varying degree of effect on the level of coordinated development of various types of systems.
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Coupling and Coordination Characteristics and Influencing Factors of the Livable Environment System for the Elderly in China

doi: 10.1007/s11769-022-1283-3
Funds:  Under the auspices of Natural Science Foundation of Heilongjiang Province (No. LH2019D008), Youth Fund for Humanities and Social Sciences of the Ministry of Education (No. 19YJC630177), Innovative Youth Talent Cultivation Plan of Heilongjiang Provincial Universities (No. UNPYSCT-2018194), Human Civilization and Social Science Supportive Program for Excellent Young Scholars of Harbin Normal University (No. SYQ2014-06)

Abstract: The construction of a livable environment for the elderly is an important measure to address the challenges of aging and improve their livelihood and well-being. Based on China’s national conditions and combined with the actual development needs of the cities, it is of great significance to explore the coupling and coordination characteristics and influencing factors within the livable environment system for the elderly for the coordination and stable development. This article was based on the three subsystems of ‘living service environment, socioeconomic environment and ecological livable environment’, following the research framework of ‘process-pattern-trend-impact’, constructs an evaluation index system for the livable environment for the elderly. Entropy weight-TOPSIS evaluation model, coupling coordination degree model, center of gravity and standard deviation ellipse model and the geographic detector model were used starting from the evolution of coupling coordination types to study the spatial and temporal pattern and dynamic trend characteristics and influencing factors of internal coupling coordination types in the livable environment system for the elderly from 2010 to 2019. The results showed that: 1) The coordinated development of life service environment system and ecological livable environment system (LE) and socioeconomic environment system and ecological livable environment system (SE) in the livable environment for the elderly decreased from the intermediate coordination level coordination areas to the low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type. The overall development level of life service environment system and socioeconomic environment system (LS) was low, and it was always at a low level. 2) The coupling degree of livable environment system for the elderly was high, the coupling coordination type shown a gradually decreasing layer structure with Zhejiang, Beijing and Guangdong high-level leading demonstration areas as the axis belt. 3) The coupling coordination center of the elderly livable environment system was located in Henan, and the standard deviation ellipse was distributed in the northeast-southwest direction. The development center and the ellipse of the high-level leading demonstration areas and the intermediate coordination level areas were concentrated in the central and eastern regions, while the low-level coordination areas for improving quality and efficiency are mainly located in the western region. 4) Urban development, green facilities, infrastructure, government macroscopic regulation and control, economic stimulus, and housing construction were all important factors affecting the coordinated development of the livable environment system for the elderly, exerting a varying degree of effect on the level of coordinated development of various types of systems.

CHEN Xiaohong, ZHANG Mingxuan, WANG Ying, XU Xiaoqing, LIU Shuang, MA Lingyu. Coupling and Coordination Characteristics and Influencing Factors of the Livable Environment System for the Elderly in China. Chinese Geographical Science doi:  10.1007/s11769-022-1283-3
Citation: CHEN Xiaohong, ZHANG Mingxuan, WANG Ying, XU Xiaoqing, LIU Shuang, MA Lingyu. Coupling and Coordination Characteristics and Influencing Factors of the Livable Environment System for the Elderly in China. Chinese Geographical Science doi:  10.1007/s11769-022-1283-3
    • With the rapid economic and social changes and the rapid increase in the aging population, the elderly have become the main participants in the construction of a livable environment. At this stage, China is in a period of rapid population aging. According to the seventh census, the population over the age of 65 accounted for 13.50%, and that over the age of 60 increased by 5.44% compared to that in 2010. The aging population problem is still serious. With the continuous increase of the aging population, addressing the need for the construction of a livable and elderly care environment for the elderly is increasingly urgent. In 2012, the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (http://www.gov.cn/flfg/2012-12/28/content_2305570.htm) began to pay attention to the livable environment for the elderly and determined to provide a safe, convenient, and comfortable environment for the elderly. With the introduction of important documents such as The Guiding Opinions on Promoting the Construction of a Livable Environment for the Elderly (http://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2016-11/25/content_5137617.htm), The Opinions of the State Council on the Implementation of the Healthy China Action (http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/content/2019-07/15/content_5409492.htm), and The Healthy China Action (2019–2030) (http://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2019-07/15/content_5409694.htm), China emphasized great importance to transformation toward the construction of a livable environment for the elderly and the healthy aging. With the goal of achieving healthy aging, this article actively builds a friendly and livable environment for the elderly and points out a new direction to improve the quality of life of the elderly and effectively respond to the problem of population aging.

      The research on the livable environment for the elderly in the Western developed countries started earlier. ‘Cities and communities that care for the elderly’ was an initiative initiated by the World Health Organization in 2007, and in 2012 and 2014 successively proposed the creation of ‘Global Friendly Cities for the Elderly’. The initiative of ‘Internet’ had become the most direct driving force in the field of research on the livable environment for the elderly (World Health Organization, 2007). The early research on the livable environment for the elderly was mainly applied to livable communities. They believed that the livable community for the elderly should obtain value from the living environment for the elderly, increase their participation, and meet the infrastructure needed and related service communities for the lives of the elderly (Alley et al., 2007; Fitzgerald, 2014; Huang, 2016; Rémillard-Boilard et al., 2020; van Hoof et al., 2021). Therefore, building a community with a good physical and social environment is an important engine for building a livable environment for the elderly. The research content involved optimizing physical space, enhancing social participation (Wu et al., 2014; Kilaberia, 2021), constructing a good travel space (Guzman and Harrell, 2015), and a suitable living environment (Yin et al., 2018). In terms of research methods, foreign scholars’ research on the livable environment for the elderly was generally centered on the residential area of the elderly, through field interviews, questionnaire surveys, and other methods to obtain the degree of satisfaction of the elderly with the living environment, and construct an indicator system to conduct empirical analysis (Zarghami et al., 2019; Pan et al., 2021). From the research perspective, the livable environment for the elderly was mostly considered from the aspects of social and service environment (Carlsson and Pijpers, 2021), natural environment (Zarghami et al., 2019), physical environment (Bak et al., 2018), social stability and equity, and health and welfare (Yin et al., 2018; Bak et al., 2018). With the deepening of research dimensions and research methods, strategies for improving the livable environment for the elderly gradually emerged, starting from proposing to reform houses (Ahn and Hegde, 2011), social and cultural interaction, public service facilities (Zimmer and Chappell, 1997), and medical facilities to compensate for the limited livable life environment (Yin et al., 2021). Economic development, natural environment, and comprehensive social quality were the main factors affecting the living environment of the elderly (Gu and Chai, 2015), and research investigations covered the whole country, provinces, cities, villages, communities, or a specific area and built an evaluation index system for the livable environment for the elderly from the dimensions of economic development (Yang, 2009; Chen et al., 2018; Li et al., 2020; Li, 2020; Zhang and Li, 2021; Yan et al., 2021), comprehensive evaluation of the livable environment for the elderly in terms of economy, society, ecology, housing, and security (Wang, 2010; Jia and Gu, 2017; Song et al., 2021). Aiming at the weak links in the development of a livable environment for the elderly, targeted strategies included optimizing the livable environment of the community, building an online service platform for mutual assistance, and combining existing resources to create a livable holy land for the elderly (Wang, 2010; Jia and Gu, 2017). Looking at the relevant literature, the research progress on the livable environment for the elderly still showed the following problems: field surveys such as questionnaires and visits are usually used to evaluate the living environment of the elderly as the main body; however, the evaluation of the characteristics of the coupling and coordinated development of the multi-dimensional system of the livable environment for the elderly has not yet formed a complete research system. Existing research only focused on the system construction and environmental evaluation of a city or a certain community, but it is insufficient to discuss the temporal and spatial evolution characteristics, dynamic trends, and influencing factors of different development types of areas.

      Taking China’s 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government as the research subject (excluding Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan of China due to unavailable data), combining with the status quo of regional development, following the research framework of ‘process-pattern-trend-impact’, starting from the three dimensions of life service environment, socioeconomic environment, and ecologically livable environment, a multi-dimensional evaluation index system was constructed for the livable environment for the elderly. Empirical analysis was performed on the temporal and spatial evolution characteristics, dynamic trends, and influencing factors of the coupling and coordination of the livable environment for the elderly in China, with a view to providing new ideas for the development of a livable environment for the elderly in China, and effectively responding to the development trend of aging and the elderly. Furthermore, it dispenses a new perspective on the urgent need for the construction of a livable environment.

    • The entropy weight-TOPSIS method is an improved traditional TOPSIS method based on the entropy method (Huang and Ma, 2018) and has been used in this study to extensively measure the comprehensive development index of the various subsystems of the livable environment for the elderly. Toward investigating the livable environment for the elderly, the higher the comprehensive development index, the better the quality of system development.

    • This study introduced the concept of the coupling degree model of the five major systems of the human settlement environment to creat a livable environment system for the elderly, so as to reflect the coordinated development level of the three subsystems of the livable environment for the elderly (Xie et al., 2016; Li et al., 2019) and characterize the degree of coordination of the coupling development among the five major subsystems, the specific classification is as follows (Table 1).

      Coupling CTypes of couplingCoupling coordination DTypes of coupling coordination
      0 ≤ C < 0.2 Run in coupling 0 ≤ D < 0.3 Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: maladjustment type (V)
      0.2 ≤ C < 0.4 Primary coupling 0.3 ≤ D < 0.4 Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: on the verge of imbalance type (IV)
      0.4 ≤ C < 0.6 Intermediate coupling 0.4 ≤ D < 0.5 Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type (III)
      0.6 ≤ C < 0.8 Well coupled 0.5 ≤ D < 0.7 Intermediate coordination level coordination areas (II)
      0.8 ≤ C ≤ 1 Quality coupling 0.7 ≤ D ≤ 1 High-level leading demonstration areas (I)

      Table 1.  Classification standards of coupling and coordination degree types

    • The standard deviation ellipse analysis uses the X axis, Y axis standard deviation, and average center as the basic parameters to quantitatively analyze the evolution of the coupled and coordinated spatial and temporal pattern in the study area. The analysis results can intuitively express the spatial distribution of the coupled and coordinated elderly livable environment in each study area range, shape, spatial density, and general distribution direction (Wang and Guo, 2017). This analysis also investigated the spatial distribution law of the coupling and coordination degree of the livable environment system for the elderly, the focus and dispersion of regional development, and the direction of the center of gravity migration.

    • Geographic detectors were used to measure the explanatory power of each evaluation index and find out the main influencing factors affecting the coupling and coordination of the livable environment system for the elderly (Wang, 2010). The greater the value of the impact factor q, the stronger the interpretation of the coupling and coordination of the livable environment system for the elderly.

    • Starting from the internal connection between the elderly and the livable environment, the definition of the human settlement environment (Zheng et al., 2015; Li et al., 2019) refers to the construction requirements in the Guiding Opinions on Promoting the Construction of a Livable Environment for the Elderly (http://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2016-11/25/content_5137617.htm) in terms of construction requirements, combined with the Ministry of Construction’s evaluation index system for the construction of livable cities in China (https://baike.so.com/doc/2594789-2739941.html). This approach integrates the physical environment, social and cultural environment, natural ecological environment, healthy social environment, health services, and other elements in the development of friendly cities for the elderly. Relevant indicators such as livable communities for the elderly have been added (Zhang and Li, 2021). Focusing on the three dimensions of life service environment, socioeconomic environment, and ecological livable environment, total 18 indicators, construction of a comprehensive evaluation index system that can reflect the livable environment for the elderly in China (Table 2). Among them, the living service environment was more concerned with the environment such as the medical care of the elderly and living facilities. The socioeconomic environment could provide a series of financial guarantees and support for the elderly, directly reflecting the stability and comfort of the livable environment for the elderly. The ecological livable environment subsystem was the real environment in which the elderly live, and the construction of green space was one of the most indispensable conditions for the establishment of a friendly city for the elderly (Zhu et al., 2016).

      Target layerSystem layerFirst level indicatorSecondary indicatorIndicator meaningUnit (attribute)
      Evaluation index system of livable environment for the elderly in China Living service environment Medical service Number of health institutions per 10000 elderly population Level of medical assistance individual (+)
      Health technicians per 10000 elderly population Medical and health protection person (+)
      Number of beds in health institutions per 10000 elderly population Medical insurance (+)
      Residential services Number of community health service centers (stations) per 10000 elderly population Community health care level (+)
      Elderly service Number of aged care service institutions per 10000 elderly population Security for the elderly (+)
      Travel service Number of public transport vehicles per 10000 elderly population Public service facilities guarantee (+)
      Socioeconomic environment Health protection Per person medical expenses for inpatients Medical health funding pressure yuan/person (–)
      Health expenditure as a proportion of general public budget expenditure Macroscopic regulation of health security % (+)
      Income distribution Per person disposable income of urban and rural residents Residents’ living consumption level yuan (+)
      Pension burden Elderly population dependency ratio Working population support pressure %(–)
      Social security Basic pension insurance participation rate Security for the elderly % (+)
      Number of socialized pension payments per 10000 elderly population Socialized management service of endowment insurance person (+)
      City maintenance Urban maintenance and construction tax City maintenance and construction guarantee 100 million yuan (+)
      Ecological livable environment Environmental pollution Per person SO2 emissions Air pollutant emission level tons/person (–)
      Green conservation Forest cover rate Green health care level % (+)
      Per person park green area Ecological and green environment conservation level m2/person (+)
      Environmental governance Urban sewage treatment rate Sewage treatment level % (+)
      Comprehensive utilization rate of industrial solid waste Solid waste utilization % (+)
      Notes: ‘+’ denotes positive effect and ‘–’ shows negative effect on coupling and coordination characteristics of the livable environment system for the elderly in China

      Table 2.  Evaluation index system of the livable environment for the elderly

      The data are from the China Statistical Yearbook (NBSC, 2011–2020), China Health and Family Planning Statistical Yearbook (NBSC, 2011–2020), China Social Statistical Yearbook (NBSC, 2011–2020), China Urban-Rural Construction Statistical Yearbook (NBSC, 2011–2020), China Civil Affairs’ Statistical Yearbook-Statistics of China Social Services (NBSC, 2011–2020), China Statistical on Environment Yearbook (NBSC, 2011–2020), China Labour Statistical Yearbook (NBSC, 2011–2020), China Health Statistical Yearbook (NBSC, 2011–2020), China Yearbook of Household Survey (NBSC, 2011–2020), China Statistical Yearbook of the Tertiary Industry (NBSC, 2011–2020), provincial statistical yearbooks and public information and annual reports of various departments. A few missing data are filled in by interpolation. All elderly data in this article refer to the elderly population over 65 years old.

    • The livable environment for the elderly is mainly composed of three development systems: life service environment, socioeconomic environment, and ecological livable environment. The integration of these three systems forms three binary subsystems, which can be simplified as life service environment system and ecological livable environment system (LE system), socioeconomic environment system and ecological livable environment system (SE system), life service environment system and socioeconomic environment system (LS system). Ecological livable environment, life service environment system and socioeconomic environment system as the name of ELS system. The calculated living service environment, social and economic environment, and ecological livable environment development index were plugged into the coupling coordination formula to obtain the coupling coordination degree of LE, SE, LS, and ELS of each province with the livable environment for the elderly, leading to the following analysis (Table 3).

      SystemYearsAverageMax.Min.Extremely poorStandard deviationCoefficient of variation
      LE20100.5100.9410.2600.6810.1480.291
      20150.5200.9790.2740.7050.1430.274
      20190.4860.8840.2260.6580.1490.308

      SE
      20100.5480.9650.1720.7930.1930.352
      20150.5020.9580.1540.8040.1890.378
      20190.4930.9670.1000.8670.1940.395
      LS20100.4820.9390.1590.7800.1780.369
      20150.4430.9040.1930.7110.1620.366
      20190.4220.8160.1750.6410.1400.331
      Notes: ‘LE’, ‘SE’,‘LS’ represent life service environment system and ecological livable environment system, socioeconomic environment system and ecological livable environment system, life service environment system and socioeconomic environment system in the level of coupling and coordination between binary systems

      Table 3.  Statistical values of the ELS system coupling coordination index of the elderly livable environment in China from 2010 to 2019

      The Table 3 shows that the coordinated development of LE and SE systems in the binary systems of life service environment, socioeconomic environment, and ecological livable environment from 2010 to 2019 has undergone a transition from a coordinated linkage areas with a intermediate coordination level coordination area to a low-level quality improvement and optimization area: coordinated transition type transition. In the transitional development stage of the LS, the overall development level of LS was low, and the coordinated development of the system always only showed the low-level improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transitional type. From the perspective of its change process, the coupling coordination degree of the binary system changed to varying degrees from 2010 to 2019. Specifically, the coordination degree of the LE binary system first showed an increasing trend followed by decreasing, while the coordination degree of the LS and SE systems showed a continued downward trend. Comparing the peak changes of each binary systems in different years, the coordination peaks of the binary systems appeared in 2015 and 2010. The coefficient of variation of the coordination value of the LE system first showed a decline followed by an increase. The difference in the coordination between the ecologically livable environment and the life service environment system of each province gradually expanded; the LS coefficient of variation gradually decreased, and the degree of data dispersion between provinces decreased. However, the coefficient of variation of the SE system gradually increased, and the progress of the binary system was relatively unbalanced, thus reflecting different degrees of coordination. The economy of China was developing rapidly with rapid acceleration in urbanization, but the resource shortage brought by an aging society had gradually reduced the development level of the factor system, and thus the coordination index of the dual system showed a decline.

    • From the perspective of the spatial pattern, Zhejiang, Beijing, Jilin, and Guangdong were high level leading demonstration areas that were coupled and coordinated with the LE system for the livable environment for the elderly (Fig. 1). In 2010, the high-level leading demonstration areas of the LE system for the elderly livable environment mainly included Beijing, Jilin, and Zhejiang, distributed in the eastern and central regions of China. The intermediate coordination level coordination areas formed a zonal distribution pattern along Heilongjiang–Inner Mongolia–Shaanxi–Hainan, while Tibet and Tianjin were dotted on both sides of the belt. Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type was distributed along the intermediate coordination level coordination areas to the northeast and southwest. The low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: on the verge of imbalance type constituted an along Xinjiang–Gansu–Ningxia–Henan–Jiangsu discontinuous strip. The low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: maladjustment type only involved Qinghai and Yunnan. In 2015, Guangdong was upgraded to a high-level leading demonstration area, while the coupling coordination degree of Jilin declined. As a leading demonstration area for the livable environment for the aging population, Guangdong played a good guiding role in the development of other regions. In addition to the point like distribution pattern formed in Tibet and Hainan, the coordinated linkage area with intermediate coordination level coordination areas were shown by a ‘Z’ shape in Inner Mongolia, Guizhou, and Fujian, and the level of coupling coordination of the LE systems in Heilongjiang and Xinjiang declined. By 2019, Beijing and Zhejiang were always high-level areas, demonstrating coupled and coordinated LE system. The smaller population, abundant medical service facilities, and the construction of green facilities made it high level livable living services and ecological environment in China. The low-level quality improvement and optimization areas were slowly increasing. In addition to the three western regions of Tibet, Qinghai, and Ningxia, the coordination between Shandong and Jiangsu systems also began to decline with increasing aging population and insufficient reserves of medical and transportation facilities. In addition, the coordinated decline of Hubei and Anhui caused obvious ruptures in the intermediate coordination level coordination areas of inland regions and also broke the original ‘Z’ structure.

      Figure 1.  The spatial and temporal pattern evolution of LE system coupling coordination in the livable environment for the elderly from 2010 to 2019. Excluding Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan of China

    • The spatial distribution of the SE system coupling coordination of the livable environment for the elderly showed a strong regular pattern (Fig. 2). From the perspective of the spatial pattern, Zhejiang and Guangdong had always been in the high-level leading demonstration areas for the SE system coupling coordination of the livable environment for the elderly. In 2010, Heilongjiang, Liaoning, Beijing, Zhejiang, Guangdong, and Yunnan showed the high- level of coordination leading the demonstration areas, There were many provinces involved in the intermediate coordination level coordination areas, and nearly half of the provinces in china belong to this type of development. Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type only involved Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, and Hainan. In the low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: on the verge of imbalance type, Guangxi and Ningxia were the only areas on the verge of imbalance. The western China region formed a low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: maladjustment type, forming a disordered cluster in the ‘Xinjiang–Tibet–Qinghai–Gansu’ area, which was separated from the Guizhou. In 2010, the overall ecological and social coordination in China was superior, and the living environment for the elderly in the two systems developed synchronously. In 2015, the high-level of coordination significantly decreased the proportion of demonstration areas, and Heilongjiang, Liaoning, and Beijing gradually evolved into intermediate coordination level coordination areas. Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: on the verge of imbalance type began to expand significantly, and the coupling coordination of the SE systems in Inner Mongolia and Shanxi declined. Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: maladjustment type remains unchanged. In 2019, the coordination level of Jilin and Shanxi declined, and the level of coupling coordination of Guizhou and Guangxi improved. There was no significant difference in the spatial distribution of other coupling coordination types.

      Figure 2.  The spatial and temporal pattern evolution of SE system coupling coordination in the livable environment for the elderly from 2010 to 2019. Excluding Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan of China

    • Beijing, Tianjin, Zhejiang, and Guangdong were high-level leading demonstration areas for the coupling coordination of the LS system in the livable environment for the elderly, whereas Gansu, Qinghai, Hainan, and other regions had always been in the low-level development areas of the LS system (Fig. 3). Specifically, in 2010, Beijing, Zhejiang, and Tianjin were the only demonstration areas leading the high-level livable environment LS system for the elderly. The intermediate coordination level coordination areas account for 32.26%, which are dotted in the periphery. Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type accounted for 29.03%. Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: on the verge of imbalance type include Ningxia, Sichuan, Jiangxi ,Hainan and Fujian regions. Only five regions of Gansu, Yunnan, Guizhou, and Guangxi showed low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: maladjustment type, and this observation is more consistent with China’s economic development level and the degree of ecological environment construction. In 2015, the intermediate coordination level coordination areas shrank sharply, and the western area was covered by the low-level quality improvement and optimization areas, indicating that the overall level of coupling coordination of the LS system in the livable environment for the elderly in the western China was relatively low, and the quality of development needs to be improved. In 2019, the coupling coordination of LS systems in the northeastern region continued to decline, and there were no intermediate and high level development areas. China’s intermediate coordination level coordination areas for the elderly were scattered in the four regions of Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Jiangsu, and Guangdong. Beijing and Zhejiang still had a good resonance coordination role in life services and social economy. Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: on the verge of imbalance type continued to expand and by 2019 accounted 35.48% of the country area.

      Figure 3.  The spatial and temporal pattern evolution of LS system coupling coordination in the livable environment for the elderly from 2010 to 2019. Excluding Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan of China

    • The average coupling degree and coupling coordination degree of the various systems in the livable environment for the elderly from 2010 to 2019 was calculated, indicating that the average coupling degree dropped from 0.759 to 0.689 in 2010, 2015, and 2019, and the average coupling coordination dropped from 0.503 to 0.456. Both the parameters showed a gradual decline (Fig. 4). The development trend of the coordinated and coordinated development of the livable environment system for the elderly was not ideal, the aging phenomenon intensified, the resource allocation and the imperfect policy and other problems appeared. The overall coordination level of the living environment declined. From 2010 to 2019, there was no run in coupling type, and the high-level coupling type accounted for a relatively large proportion. The overall level of coupling in the livable environment for the elderly was relatively high, with relatively strong correlation between the systems. From the perspective of the proportion of coordination types in each year, in 2010, the intermediate coordination level coordination areas occupied the leading position in the coordination type of the livable environment system for the elderly. In 2015 and 2019, the low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type occupied the leading position of the coordinated type of the livable environment system for the elderly. The time evolution of the type of coupling coordination degree took 2015 as the watershed, and its evolution process was divided into two phases: Phase 1: 2010–2015 and Phase 2: 2015–2019. In Phase I, the intermediate coordination level coordination areas dominated in 2010 and reached 45.16%; until 2015, it dropped to 29.03%, and dropped to a low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type. The second stage was a low-level development stage with a low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type as the leading development type, occupying a dominant position in the coupling and coordination of the livable environment system for the elderly, accounting for 51.61%. This fluctuating trend was the result of a combination of multiple factors. The change of a certain factor between the systems would break the original balance. At low development level, the new development factor should be continuously improved to promote the overall coordination level to rise again.

      Figure 4.  The coupling degree and coupling coordination degree of the ELS system of the livable environment for the elderly from 2010 to 2019. Excluding Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan of China

    • From the perspective of the spatial pattern, the zoning of the coupling coordination type of the livable environment system for the elderly generally presented ‘high in the east and low in the west’: with the high-level leading demonstration areas of Zhejiang, Beijing, and Guangdong as the axis, with decreasing circle structure to the inland area (Fig. 5). As the leading province with the coupling coordination of the livable environment system for the elderly, these areas were ahead of the rest of the region in terms of life services, social economy, and ecological environment. Specifically, in 2010, the high-level leading demonstration areas for the elderly livable environment mainly involved the three provinces of Beijing, Zhejiang, and Guangdong, which were distributed in the southeastern coastal area. The intermediate coordination level coordination areas were adjacent to the high-level leading demonstration areas, which together constituted the ring-shaped distribution pattern exception of Shanxi, Henan, and Anhui. In addition to the low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type, Hainan forms a dotted distribution pattern in the southeast, and the other regions form a belt structure of Shanxi–Henan–Anhui and Tibet–Sichuan–Chongqing. Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: on the verge of imbalance type was relatively scattered, involving the Xinjiang, Ningxia, and Yunnan regions. The low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: maladjustment type was distributed in the western part of China in a cluster structure. In 2015, the high-level leading demonstration areas continued to be the three regions of Zhejiang, Guangdong, and Beijing regulationg. As the leading demonstration areas for the livable environment for the elderly, these provinces would play a good role in demonstrating the development of other regions. The intermediate coordination level coordination areas shrank sharply, and the low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type began to expand to North China and Northeast China, accounting for 35.48%. With the rationalization of regional macro, the coordination level of Yunnan, Hainan, Guangxi, and Guizhou, which were originally in low-level and optimized areas had risen. In 2019, the high level of coordination did not show any significant changes in the spatial distribution pattern of the demonstration areas, and the intermediate coordination level coordination areas moved to the east and continued to shrink. As of 2019, more than half of the country’s regions were covered by low-level quality improvement areas, because of the inconsistent problems such as the deterioration of the ecological environment, the intensification of human-land conflicts, and the shortage of resources caused by the deepening of the aging degree, and the need for the construction of suitable and livable people.

      Figure 5.  The spatial and temporal pattern evolution of the ELS system coupling coordination in the livable environment for the elderly from 2010 to 2019. Excluding Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan Province of China

    • ArcGIS 10.6 software was used to explore the distance and direction of the center of gravity and standard deviation ellipse migration of China’s elderly livable environment, life service environment, socioeconomic environment, ecological livable environment system, and a trajectory map was drawn (Fig. 6).

      Figure 6.  The dynamic trend of various types of spaces in the coupling coordination of the livable environment system for the elderly from 2010 to 2019. Excluding Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan of China. The numbers I–V represent the types of coupling coordination in Table 1

    • From 2010 to 2019, the coordinated center of gravity for the coordination of the livable environment for the elderly in China all fell within the territory of Henan. The standard deviation ellipse generally distributed in the northeast-southwest direction, and the center of gravity relocated to the south by 95.39 km, indicating the coordinated development of the southern systems of the livable environment for the China’s elderly population. The degree of coordinated development showed a slow increase. Compared with 2010, the area of the ellipse shrank by 3.58%, and the spatial agglomeration slightly increased. Specifically, from 2010 to 2015, the center of gravity shifted to the southwest by 73.30 km, and both the X, Y axes decreased; however, the X axis changed significantly. The overall shrinkage was 57.14 km, and the areas decreased slightly by 5.23%, indicating that during 2010 to 2015, the socioeconomic and environmental development levels of Heilongjiang and Jilin declined, and the overall coupling coordination level declined as well, causing the center of gravity to gradually deviate from the northeast direction. From 2015 to 2019, the area of the standard deviation ellipse of the coordinated standard deviation of the aging livable environment expanded slightly, and the center of gravity moved to the southeast by 23.69 km. The advantages of the coupling coordination of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and other places began to appear, and the X, Y axes gradually extended.

    • From 2010 to 2019, the high level of coordination did not show any significant changes in the overall standard deviation ellipse of the demonstration area, and the ellipse area decreased by 0.48%, and the coupling coordination center of gravity fell within the territory of Anhui. From 2010 to 2015, the overall migration to the south was 0.27 km. The X axis shrank slightly, and the Y axis expanded slightly. From 2015 to 2019, the coordinated center of gravity of the elderly livable environment system moved 15.87 km northward, the areas of the ellipse expanded by 0.21%, the length of the X axis shrank, and the length of the Y axis expanded.

    • The standard deviation ellipse and the center of gravity of the intermediate coordination level coordination areas changed significantly. Within the three-time nodes, all the parameters, the position of the center of gravity, the direction of the ellipse, and the areas changed markedly. In 2010, the center of gravity of the coupling coordination was in the Shandong. The ellipse was allocated in the east by north-west by south direction. The areas of the ellipse was larger, and the provinces in the intermediate coordination level areas were more scattered. By 2015, the areas of the ellipse shrank significantly, and the direction also changed significantly. The center of the intermediate coordination level coordination areas fell within the territory of Anhui, the development of Inner Mongolia and Northeast China lacked vitality, and the quality of the livable environment for the elderly in Sichuan rose to a medium level. The provinces with coordinated levels began to migrate to the southwest. The X axis expanded, and the standard deviation ellipse was more pronounced in the northeast-southwest direction. The Y axis contracted, and the overall ellipse area decreased by 24.15%. Within the scope, the spatial heterogeneity of the livable environment for the elderly increased. By 2019, the distribution of the ellipse was the same as in 2010; however, the area changed significantly, and the contraction trend was obvious. The center of gravity was within the territory of Jiangsu and it gradually shifted to the northeast.

    • From 2010 to 2019, low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type areas were observed, and the center of gravity and standard deviation ellipse changes were also more significant. In 2010, the center of gravity fell on the junction of Chongqing and Sichuan, and the ellipse distribution was roughly distributed in the east-west direction; however, in 2015, the ellipse’s center of gravity fell within the Shanxi, and Hebei, Tianjin, and Northeast China had increased the pulling effect of the system coupling coordination. Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type began to shift to the northeast. After the coordinated downward movement of Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Tianjin, and other areas, the pulling effect of this type of areas were greater, causing the center of gravity to shift to the northeast. From 2015 to 2019, the area of the ellipse shrank by 15.34% during the whole period, and the pulling effect of the northwest reduced. Compared with 2010, the ellipse moved 873.36 km to the northeast, the X axis contracted, the Y axis expanded, and the areas contracted 11.15%.

    • During the study period, low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: on the verge of imbalance type ellipse expanded by 40.21%, and the coupling coordination center of gravity moved roughly within the borders of Qinghai and the western provinces of Guizhou. From 2010 to 2015, the overall migration to the southeast was 1515.55 km. The X axis shrank, and the Y axis expanded, indicating that from 2010 to 2015, the coordinated distribution among the living service environment, social economic environment, and ecological livable environment for the elderly decentralized to concentrate development process. From 2015 to 2019, the coordinated center of gravity of the elderly livable environment system moved to the northwest by 1224.99 km, the ellipse areas expanded, the length of the X axis increased, and the length of the Y axis decreased, it showed that the low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: on the verge of imbalance type in northwest China tend to be concentrated. On the whole, during the entire study period, The standard deviation ellipse area of this type area showed a trend of contraction first and then expansion, with a relatively scattered spatial distribution. The center of gravity moved to the southeast by 291.58 km, and the corresponding X, Y axes expanded.

    • The low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: maladjustment type of livable environment for the elderly were mainly located in Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan in western China. From 2010 to 2015, the center of gravity moved to the northwest by 1418.92 km, the area of the ellipse decreased by 22.59%, the X axis expanded, and the Y axis contracted. From 2015 to 2019, the coordinated center of gravity of the elderly livable environment system continues to move to the southeast by 1102.01 km, the standard deviation ellipse areas continued to expand by 34.86%, the X axis shrank by 228.32 km, and the Y axis expanded by 197.90 km. The level of coupling coordination in Chongqing dropped significantly, prompting the overall the center of gravity to move to the southeast. During the 2010–2019 study period, the areas of the inner ellipse expanded by 4.39%, and the center of gravity moved as a whole by 519.78 km.

    • The coupling and coordinated development of the elderly livable environment system is a function of many factors. Based on the existing results (Yang, 2009; Xie et al., 2016; Li et al., 2019; Zhang and Li, 2021), from the six aspects of urban development level, green facilities, infrastructure, government macroscopic regulation and control, economic stimulus, and housing construction indicators were selected to diagnose the factors affecting the coordination of the livable environment system for the elderly. The level of urban development is an important factor in the construction of a livable environment for the elderly and is characterized by the urbanization rate (X1). The construction of green facilities is the key point of ecological livable environment construction and is divided into the green coverage rate of built-up area (X2); infrastructure construction is the most basic guarantee for the life of the elderly and is represented by gas coverage rate (X3); government macroscopic regulation and control is the government’s intervention capacity, and the macro-policy promise for the construction of a livable environment for the elderly is represented by the ratio of total health expenditure to GDP (X4); economic driving contributes to the construction and development of various facilities for the elderly, which are the foundation for the construction of a livable environment for the elderly. It is divided into per person GDP (X5); and the proportion of tertiary industry in GDP (X6); Residential construction is most closely related to the life of the elderly and is the main active place of the elderly. It is represented by the proportion of residential investment in the real estate investment (X7) (Table 4).

      Coupling coordination typeYearsX1X2X3X4X5X6X7
      High-level leading demonstration areas 2010 0.1020 0.1020 0.4369 0.1020 0.1020 0.1020 0.1020
      2015 0.4691 0.4691 0.0833 0.4691 0.4691 0.4691 0.4691
      2019 0.3258 0.3258 0.1812 0.3258 0.3258 0.3258 0.3258
      Intermediate coordination level coordination areas 2010 0.3016 0.3984 0.3655 0.5818 0.1392 0.2709 0.0711
      2015 0.7911 0.6878 0.5720 0.3600 0.7237 0.6976 0.5406
      2019 0.9581 0.3054 0.6047 0.9966 0.6047 0.9307 0.9307
      Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type 2010 0.6959 0.8565 0.8155 0.4478 0.9479 0.8462 0.9663
      2015 0.3844 0.4830 0.2377 0.2465 0.2241 0.5659 0.1015
      2019 0.3341 0.0933 0.2011 0.0513 0.1718 0.2254 0.2925
      Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: on the verge of imbalance type 2010 0.1927 0.9952 0.1927 0.9952 0.1927 0.3121 0.3121
      2015 0.7802 0.4323 0.0222 0.0175 0.7802 0.5610 0.3618
      2019 0.3739 0.3739 0.3739 0.9930 0.9930 0.4997 0.9930
      Low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: maladjustment type 2010 0.9721 0.8356 0.8885 0.9721 0.9721 0.8885 0.6723
      2015 0.7874 0.7106 0.0020 0.7106 0.7874 0.7874 0.7874
      2019 0.9952 0.9988 0.9988 0.3915 0.9952 0.9952 0.9988

      Table 4.  Detection of coupling coordination factors of various types of systems in the livable environment for the elderly in China from 2010 to 2019

    • The analysis of the detection factor q of the high level of coordination of the elderly livable environment system from 2010 to 2019 leads the demonstration area. In 2010, it was found that except for the gas penetration rate which has a greater impact on the construction of the elderly livable environment, the detection values of other factors are small. The impact on the high-level leading demonstration areas were relatively small (Table 4). From 2015 to 2019, the q values of the various factors that affect the high-level leading demonstration areas began to change. Urban development, green facilities, government macroscopic regulation and control, economic stimulus, and housing construction began to strengthen the role of promoting the livable environment for the elderly, becoming the main influencing factors and the foundation. The impact of facility construction was relatively small. At the same time, the high-level leading demonstration areas were a relatively developed region, and the completeness of the construction of a livable environment for the elderly was also the result of a variety of factors.

    • According to factor detection results of the coordinated areas at intermediate coordination level coordination areas, urban development and government macroscopic regulation and control exhibited a relatively high overall impact on the livable environment for the elderly from 2010 to 2019. Specifically, in 2010, the government macroscopic regulation and control was the dominant factor, the construction of green facilities and infrastructure was an important factor, and residential construction had the least impact on the coordinated linkage area of the intermediate coordination level. In 2015, urban development became the dominant influencing factor, the influence of the government macroscopic regulation and control weakened, and the influence of economic driving on the intermediate coordination level coordination areas of livable environment for the elderly began to strengthen, becoming the main influencing factor, while the influence of residential construction was still weak. In 2019, the government macroscopic regulation and control became the dominant factor, with a detection factor q value of 0.9966. The proportion of tertiary industry in urban development and economic driving and the q value of residential construction were all greater than 0.9, and the influence of greening facilities was the weakest.

    • Efficient driving, residential construction, and urban development are the leading factors of low-level quality, and efficiency improvement district-coordinated transitional type. Specifically, in 2010, the dominant factor was housing construction, with a detection factor q value of 0.9663. The important influencing factor was per person GDP driven by economic, and the detection q value was 0.9479. The detection value of government macroscopic regulation and control was the smallest. In 2015, the detection value began to decrease as a whole, and the leading factor was the ratio of the tertiary industry in the economic driving, with a q value of 0.5659, which decreased significantly compared to that in 2010. Green facilities were the major influencing factor, with a q value of 0.4830. The minimum influence was only the residential construction, with a detection value of 0.1015. In 2019, the q value of the influence of leading factors continued to weaken, with urban development as the leading factor and residential construction as the secondary factor. The government macroscopic regulation and control exerted the weakest influence with a value of only 0.0513.

    • According to the low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: on the verge of imbalance type of factor detection result, in 2010, the government macroscopic regulation and control and green infrastructure construction were found as the dominant impact factors; the economy and housing facilities construction of the third industry accounted for the main influencing factor, the remaining factors had the least impact on the low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: on the verge of imbalance type. In 2015, the leading influencing factor became per person GDP in economic driving, while the influence of government macroscopic regulation and control weakened and became the least influential factor. In 2019, the government macroscopic regulation and control became the dominant factor, and the driving effect gradually increased, with an influencing factor q of 0.9966. The urban development, per person GDP, and housing construction in the economic driving were the dominant factors, while the tertiary industry in the economic driving was the main factor, and the other factors had a relatively weak effect.

    • According to the low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: maladjustment type on the verge of disorder of geographic detection results showed that in 2010, the government macroscopic regulation and control and urban development were as the leading economic influence factor, the economy and infrastructure construction of the third industry accounted for the main influence factor, the factor of low quality, and the remaining factors had the least impact. In 2015, the leading influencing factors changed into economic driving, urban development, and residential construction, while the influence of government macroscopic regulation and control, greening facilities, and infrastructure weakened and became the least persuasive factors. In 2019, the influence of facilities on the basis of green facilities continued to increase, and together with residential construction became the leading influencing factors, with the detection factor q with a value of 0.9988. The influence of government macroscopic regulation and control weakened and the detection factor q was the smallest. Other factors were very important.

    • The overall development of the livable environment for the elderly in China was uneven. The insufficient economic investment, weak development foundation, and deterioration of the natural environment were still obvious problems. In view of regional development differences, this article proposed the following enlightenment suggestions: 1) High-level regions played a leading and exemplary role, Guangdong, Zhejiang, and other areas in the eastern region should make good use of their own advantages in the development of a livable environment for the elderly, focusing on urban agglomerations and the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area should accelerate the creation of coordinated social, economic and ecological development, and promote the elderly’s career and their life. Expenditure for people’s social life security, improve the status quo of the ecological environment while the economy develops rapidly, control the emission of air pollutants, and use policy protection and other measures to strengthen the governance of the natural environment. 2) Intermediate coordination level coordination areas. The elderly livable environment system was coupled and coordinated. The central and eastern regions showed relatively moderately developed areas. Relying on the unique geographical location and transportation hub advantages, they would play a radiating and leading role in key regions such as Fujian, Jiangxi, and Jiangsu, and build on the foundation of a good ecological environment. In order to introduce high-quality resources from the eastern part of the demonstration areas, the government macroscopic regulation and control role should be strengthened, enhancing its own competitiveness. 3) Quality and efficiency improvement areas in low-level areas. The level of economic development and the quality of the ecological environment in the western region were poor. Chongqing, Sichuan, Shaanxi, and other places had become regional development centers in the western region. Other places actively integrate into the construction of The Belt and Road, strive to improve the ecological environment, increase the supply of services such as medical care, elderly care, and culture, increase investment in the construction of the elderly care environment, and effectively enhance the quality of their own livable environment for the elderly.

      Respecting the elderly, improving their quality of life, and creating a suitable and livable environment have become the key issues of the healthy aging strategy. It is found that the development of various types of livable environment for the elderly in China reflects different regional differences and spatial differentiation. It has certain scientific value for the choice of development mode and improvement of development quality of livable environment for the elderly in China, and stimulates the internal development vitality of livable environment construction for the elderly. However, this study also has many shortcomings. On the one hand, due to the limitation of data acquisition, the indicators selected in this article lack parameters that reflect the subjective wishes of the elderly with data such as questionnaire surveys and relative lack of the consideration of air quality in the living environment. On the other hand, only an thorough analysis of the coupling and coordination degree of the interaction between the livable environment systems for the elderly eventually fails to accurately grasp the important factors that affect the construction of the livable environment for the elderly. At the same time, since only the Chinese provinces were taken as the research object, the large scale coordinated research on the livable environment system for the elderly is relatively macro. Microsizing and refinement exploration of the new problems and new orientations faced by the livable environment for the elderly in small scale and typical areas will become the focus of future research.

    • Under the construction of the index system of ‘life service environment–socioeconomic environment–ecological livable environment’, based on the research data of China’s 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government as the research subject (excluding Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan of China), across the country, the coordinated development of various types of temporal and spatial evolution and spatial dynamics of the livable environment system for the elderly, the trends and corresponding influencing factors of various types of areas lead to the following conclusions:

      1) The coordinated development of EL and ES systems for the livable environment for the elderly experienced a transitional development stage fromed a intermediate coordination level coordination areas to low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type. The overall development of the LS was low, and the system coordination level showed a low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type. From the change in the internal average of each system, the coordination level of the EL system first showed a decline and then rise. Unlike the EL system, the coordination level of the ES and LS systems in the livable environment for the elderly always showed a decreasing trend. The coordination between different systems was quite different, and the higher-level spatial distribution of the binary system was different. Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, and other places had began to highlight the advantages of different binary systems; however, the coordination between the ternary systems was relatively weak.

      2) The degree of coupling and coordination of the livable environment system for the elderly in various provinces in China showed a downward trend. Zhejiang, Beijing, and Guangdong exhibited a relatively high level of coupling and coordination, and the central region mainly showed more intermediate coordination level coordination areas and low-level quality improvement and optimization areas. The coupling and coordination of the western system was in a lagging stage with a very low overall level of coupling and coordination. The livable environment for the elderly showed a gradually decreasing development pattern of ‘east–middle–west’.

      3) From the perspective of the spatial dynamic trend of the coupling and coordination degree, The center of gravity and standard deviation ellipse of the coupling coordination in the provincial and high-level leading demonstration areas did not change significantly. The center of gravity of the intermediate coordination level coordination areas moves in the eastern and central regions, improving the agglomeration situation and showing significant spatial heterogeneity. The low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: coordinated transition type and the on the verge of imbalance type’ standard deviation ellipse had a big difference in directional changes from year to year had different directional changes in each year. The low-level quality improvement and optimization areas: maladjustment type center of gravity moved to the northwest as a whole, exhibiting a spatial clustering trend.

      4) According to the results of the Geographical Detector on the livable environment for the elderly, the influencing factors of different coupling and coordination types showed a big difference. There were many leading influencing factors in the high-level demonstration areas, as a result of the combined effect of multiple factors. Intermediate coordination level coordination areas were mainly affected by urban development and government macroscopic regulation and control. For low-level quality improvement and optimization areas, six factors influencing economic development and housing construction all played a leading role in varying degrees.

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