New Article from Population and Development Review
2010 Census Data and New Demographic Reality in China
"China's new demographic reality: Learning from the 2010 census," by Yong Cai
NEW YORK (16 September 2013) — China conducted its sixth modern census in 2010, recording a total of 1.34 billion people. The data confirm that China has entered a new demographic era characterized by prolonged low fertility, persistently elevated sex ratios, rapid aging, massive urbanization, and widespread geographic redistribution. Yong Cai, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, explores preliminary census data and finds that they are of reasonable quality but contain some apparent inconsistencies where adjustments may be required. For instance, extremely low estimates of infant mortality suggest problems in recording deaths.
The data indicate that fertility remains well below replacement level—probably as low as 1.5 births per woman—even after controlling for under-reporting of births, which is common. Since the early 1980s, China’s sex ratio at birth has been above the normal level of around 105 males per hundred females born. Despite considerable investment in strategies to alleviate this imbalance, the census data offer little evidence of improvement. The sex ratio for persons born after the 2000 census is 118 or more males per hundred females. The total number of "missing" girls in China has risen to more than 20 million.
China's population is increasingly mobile. Several coastal provinces—in particular Shanghai and Beijing—grew by as much as 40 percent in the last decade, each adding about 6 million people over that time. The real surprise for China, however, is a new phenomenon of population decline; six Chinese provinces—including Sichuan, Hubei, and Chongqing—recorded population loss due to out migration. Fifty present of China’s population now lives in urban areas. China’s gain in life expectancy is a notable 3–4 years in the decade since the last census. The combination of low fertility and falling old-age mortality are leading to continued and rapid population aging.
These data provide a panoramic view of the country's demographic situation in the first decade of the twenty-first century.
Population and Development Review (PDR) seeks to advance knowledge of the relationships between population and social, economic, and environmental change and provides a forum for discussion of related issues of public policy. PDR is published quarterly on behalf of the Population Council by Wiley-Blackwell.
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