China’s latest census shows that the country’s more than 1.3 billion people are rapidly aging and rapidly urbanizing.
Ma Jiantang, the head of China’s National Bureau of Statistics, told reporters in Beijing that the number of people in China under 14 years old dropped more than six percentage points in 2010, compared to the last census in 2000. At the same time, he says the number of people aged 60 or older increased nearly three percentage points.
Ma says the change is a reflection of improved living standards and health conditions that have come with China’s rapid economic growth.
Ma put China’s overall population at 1.34 billion people. He says the population growth rate has nearly halved from the 2000 census, to less than one percent last year.
Ma says the figures demonstrate what he called the continuous and good implementation of China’s national family planning policy. He adds that it has been effective in controlling an otherwise excessively and rapidly growing population.
Since 1980, the Chinese government has maintained a strict family planning policy that limits most urban couples to one child. Ma says this policy has given China what he called a "triple low model" of population growth - low birth rate, low death rate and low net population increase. He saidthis differs from other developing countries, many of which have higher birth rates.
He noted that it took many developed countries as long as 100 years to reach the so-called triple low point, while China did so in just a few decades.
The census results also show that nearly half of China’s population live in urban areas, compared with about 36 percent in 2000.
That represents more than 180 million people who have moved from the countryside to the cities in just 10 years. Most have been drawn by the prospect of finding factory jobs as the nation transforms itself from a mainly agrarian society into an industrial powerhouse.