SCIO briefing on 7th National Population Census

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In the past decade, China's urbanization rate has risen rapidly but the percentage of registered urban residents is much lower than that of permanent urban residents. What are the specific reasons for this? The census results show that China has experienced a significant surge in its floating population over the past decade. How do we view this phenomenon and what impact will it have on the reform of the household registration system? Thank you.

Li Xiaochao:

According to the census, China's urbanization rate has indeed increased rapidly over the past 10 years. The share of the urban population went up by 14.21 percentage points, as Mr. Ning introduced just now. The floating population has also increased considerably, which reflects the results of sustained economic and social development as well as the effective allocation of human and talent resources. At the same time, it is also the result of a strengthened economic and social vitality in some regions and cities, which is consistent with the development trends of other countries around the world. It should be pointed out that China's urbanization rate is currently in the upper-middle-range compared to the world's average, which is similar to China's upper-middle average per capita GDP compared to the rest of the world. It is expected that with the constant development of China's economy and society and the continuous advancement of various reform measures to promote urbanization, the urbanization rate will continue to increase.

In addition, the census data further reveals that while the urbanization rate and floating population are increasing, these two aspects are also displaying some other characteristics.

First, the proportion of floating population flowing into urban areas is still rising. In 2020, the floating population flowing into urban areas reached 331 million, accounting for 88.12% of the total floating population, up 3.85 percentage points from 2010. Among them, 249 million people moved from rural to urban areas, 106 million more than in 2010—an increase of over 100 million people in a decade.

Second, the proportion of floating population flowing into areas with a high urbanization rate remains relatively high. The eastern region absorbed an interprovincial floating population of 91.81 million, accounting for 73.54% of the total floating population, while the central region absorbed 9.55 million, or 7.65%, the western region took 18.8 million, or 15.06%, and the northeast region took 4.68 million, or 3.75%.

Third, the floating population within the provinces, that is to say, the population flow within a short distance, is growing even faster. The floating population within the provinces totaled 251 million, an increase of 116 million or 85.70% since 2010. The interprovincial floating population amounted to 125 million, an increase of 38.96 million or 45.37% since 2010. This data shows that the floating population within provinces is growing much faster than the interprovincial floating population. The proportion of the floating population within the provinces increased from 61.15% in 2010 to 66.78% of the total floating population, up 5.63 percentage points. About two-thirds of the floating population chose to move just a short distance within the province.

Regarding the difference between the percentage of registered urban residents and the percentage of permanent urban residents, first we should understand that the former has also increased markedly in the past decade. By the end of 2020, China had achieved its goal of granting permanent urban residency to 100 million people living in urban areas without urban household registration. Meanwhile, we should also be aware that this difference is mainly reflected in migrant workers. Restricted by various security conditions and systems, it may still take some time for this difference to be reduced or even eliminated. Of course, some registered rural residents are less willing to gain permanent urban residency. Especially after the rural vitalization and poverty alleviation campaigns yielded results, some people want to stay in the countryside. Therefore, the reluctance of some registered rural residents to leave the countryside also explains why there is a difference.

We believe that with the sustained high-quality development of China's economy and society as well as the continuous advancement of a new type of urbanization, the country's urbanization will develop more scientifically and rationally, its population will flow in a more orderly and reasonable way, and a new situation for the coordinated development of the economy, society, and population mobility will be created.Thank you.

Chen Wenjun:

Due to the time limit, we will have the last question.

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