What happened in the UK in 1851, the United States in 1920 and in the World in 2008? These three years mark the estimated year when the size of a given urban population overtook the size of the rural population. And now China has reached this significant landmark.
The Chinese Bureau for National Statistics reported recently that in 2011, the proportion of urban population reached 51.27 percent (1.3% higher than in 2010) with the urban population standing at 690.79 million persons, an increase of 21 million persons in a year. China’s rural population stood at 656.56 million persons and for the first time her urban population was 34.23 million persons more than the rural population.
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This landmark moment ought to prompt some interesting discussion about the causes and consequences of eye-watering population movement wuthin a country.
* What are the push and pull factors that cause so many millions of people to move within the space of a year?
* What are the economic and social effects of a rapidly-expanding urban population?
* How might it impact on the cost of living, rents, wage pressures and the quality of life for urban residents?
* What are the likely effects of population shift on relative poverty within China?
Will this rural-urban migration accelerate the Lewis turning point for the Chinese economy, namely an unstoppable pressure for wages to rise in industrial businesses to meet the ever-rising cost of living. And upward pressure on wages in rural areas because of labour shortages.
Reuters news quotes Cheng Jiansan, a professor with the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences - “It’s a clear signal to all investors—China’s cheap labor is fading into the past and will never be back.”
The urban rural shift might also be discussed in the context of China’s ageing population discussed below in a new video from AlJaeerah news
BBC news video (Jan 2012): China’s population shift to the city
World Business Video
AlJazeerah News: China’s ageing population