SCIO briefing on 7th National Population Census

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We noticed that there are some new changes and features in the statistics released by Mr. Ning. Compared with the data of the Sixth National Population Census, what are the new changes and trends regarding the gender ratio, age composition, and educational level this time around? Could you elaborate on these aspects? Thank you.

Ning Jizhe:

This issue is rather significant, and I'll take your question. The population is the most fundamental and crucial national condition of a country. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has attached great importance to the issue of population, making key decisions such as gradually adjusting family planning policies and promoting long-term and balanced population development. China's population-related work has seen remarkable progress and there have been some active changes in the trends of population development. The census results released just now reflected the basic situation of China's population and demographic trends over the past ten years in a comprehensive and detailed way. In general, it can be summarized in a few sentences.

Over the past decade, China's population has continued to grow and it remains the world's most populous country. The quality of the population has steadily improved, and the educational level of the population has increased significantly. The population structure has changed with the gender ratio improving. Meanwhile, the age composition of the population showed an increase in the amount of people in the age groups of 0 to 14, and 60 and above and a drop in the amount of people between 15 and 59. The trend of population movement and concentration has also become more obvious, and the level of urbanization has continued to rise. There are six characteristics as follows:

First, in terms of total population, although the growth rate of China's total population is slowing down, it still maintains a steady growth. In 2020, China's population reached 1.41 billion, accounting for 18% of the world's population, meaning China remains the most populous country in the world. Over the past decade, China's population has jumped from 1.3 billion in 2010 to 1.4 billion in 2020 with an increase of 72.06 million, up by 5.38% compared with 2010. The average annual growth rate was 0.53%, slightly down from that of 0.57% from 2000 to 2010.

Second, in terms of population quality, the educational level of the Chinese population has increased significantly, and the quality of the population has been improving. The average number of years of education received by people aged 15 and above has increased from 9.08 years in 2010 to 9.91 years. The average number of years of education received by the working age population, between 16 and 59, has grown from 9.67 years in 2010 to 10.75 years. The illiteracy rate dropped from 4.08% in 2010 to 2.67%.

Third, in terms of gender composition, the sex ratio at birth has steadily declined and the gender structure has improved. According to the census, the sex ratio was 105.1, basically the same level and slightly lower than that of 105.2 in 2010. The sex ratio at birth was 111.3 in 2020, down by 6.8 compared with that in 2010, gradually converging to a normal level.

Fourth, in terms of age composition, the number of children increased and their proportion rose, with the number of children aged 0-14 increasing by 30.92 million compared to 2010 and their proportion rising by 1.35 percentage points. The number of births rebounded as a result of decisions and policy measures such as the "selective two-child" policy and the "universal two-child" policy. The birth rate of second children saw a significant increase, and the proportion of babies born as a second child rose from 30% in 2013 to 50% in 2017.

Fifth, in terms of population migration and mobility, population movement remains active and the agglomeration effect of the population has become increasingly evident. The census results showed that it has become common for people to live in places other than their household registration areas. The number of people who lived in places other than their household registration areas reached 493 million in 2020, accounting for 35% of the Chinese population. Specifically, the floating population numbered 376 million, up nearly 70% over the past decade. In terms of the flow direction, the population continues to flock to areas along the Yangtze River, coastal areas and inland urban areas. The population of major city clusters such as the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and the Chengdu-Chongqing city cluster is growing rapidly and the degree of agglomeration is increasing.

Sixth, in terms of the urban-rural structure of the population, China's permanent urban population continues to increase, and its share has further improved. Over the past decade, the urban population has increased by 236 million, and the share of urban population grew by 14.21 percentage points, a 0.75 percentage point increase compared with the growth of the last decade. As the census showed, we have accelerated the implementation of the new people-centered and quality-oriented urbanization strategy and made notable progress in helping people who have relocated from rural to urban areas to gain permanent urban residency.

The major changes in China's population in the past decade reflect the historical progress of China's economic, social and population development. They reflect the practical progress of promoting high-quality development and securing a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. They also comply with the trend of population development and the objective laws of the interaction between the population, the economy and society. Moreover, the census data also reflects some structural contradictions in the development of China's population, such as a decrease in the population of working age people and women of childbearing age, an aging population, a decrease in the total fertility rate, and the low number of births.

We need to look at the impact of demographic changes on the economy and society dialectically. First, China's basic national conditions of a large population base and a large population have not changed; the advantages of a super-sized domestic market will persist for a long time; and the population and resources and environment will remain in a tight balance. At the same time, population growth is slowing down, and measures are needed to promote long-term balanced population development. Second, the labor resources are still abundant and the demographic dividend continue to exist, while the working age population decreases slowly year by year. The economic structure and technological development need to be adjusted and adapted. Third, the population quality is improving. New advantages of talent dividends will gradually emerge. College students are facing increasing employment pressure. Industrial transformation and upgrading needs to be accelerated. Fourthly, the proportion of children and the elderly population are both increasing. The increase in the proportion of children reflects the achievement of adjusting the family planning policies and highlights the importance of the issue regarding the elderly and children. We need to improve family planning policies and the population service system such as parenting. The proportion of the elderly population is rising rapidly and ageing has become the basic national condition in China for some time to come. The increase in the elderly population will be conducive to passing on wisdoms and traditions and also bring expanded demands. Fifth, the accelerated agglomeration of the population reflects changes in the trends of urbanization and economic agglomeration, and makes new requirements for improving the quality of urbanization and promoting regional coordinated development. Thank you.

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