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Researchers Tackle Population Problem

The heavily populated southern province of Guangdong is leading the way in China's unprecedented population strategy research.

The new campaign will draw up effective mid- and long-term strategies to tackle problems caused by the province's growing number of residents.

Latest figures show permanent dwellers and settling migrants have surpassed 100 million,

The population development strategy research group consists of senior demographic experts, professors, economists and officials.

It was set up in September and has begun studies into the future population development trend.

The group focuses on studying Guangdong's migrant population and the pattern of migration urbanization.

"Average age of employed people, the unemployment rate, the changes of demographic distribution in the province and related issues will also be probed," said Zhang Feng, deputy director of the Guangdong Provincial Commission for Population and Family Planning.

Research results will be published before the end of the year and "provide basic data and accurate forecasts" on the province's population development. "The findings will be passed onto the provincial government," Zhang said.

The province may see an additional 950,000 new immigrants from around the country this year.

And the trend will keep its momentum in the following years because of the province's rapid economic development.

This will create great pressure on the province's economic development, Zhang added.

The results will be of "great significance" and will help map out a population development plan in the coming 11th Five-Year Plan period which starts in 2006.

"The study is expected to help the province dispel any future possible population crisis and turn the province's population pressures into positive human resources," Zhang said.

Guangdong will further reform its urban household registration system according to the research results in the following years to meet the demand, Zhang said. The group will make forecasts of the province's total population in 2010, 2020 and 2050, helping the local government introduce and map out housing and economic development plans.

Guangdong may experience major population problems such as an unexpected increase in the number of elderly citizens and an unbalanced birth rate between male and female.

The number of Guangdong's existing senior citizens aged above 65 years old has reached 5.7 million. They account for 7.2 per cent of the province's total population.

The province's birth rate between males and females has reached about 1.08 to 1 in recent years.

With a large number of transient people, Guangdong had by the end of last year a registered population of more than 100 million.

The large number of people include more than 80 million permanent residents and 23 million transient people from around the country. The transient population are mainly living and working in Guangzhou and the Shenzhen and Zhuhai special economic zones, and in Dongguan, Zhongshan, Foshan, Jiangmen and Huizhou in the economically booming Pearl River Delta region. Farmers represent 65 per cent of the province's total population.

(China Daily November 1, 2004)

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