Population

Natural growth rate of population continues to decline in 2003

The natural growth rate of population continued to decline. At the end of 2003, China's total population in the mainland amounted to 1,292.27 million. Of the population, the male reached 665.56 million, accounting for 51.5 percent; the female, 626.71 million, taking up 48.5 percent. The new birth in the country was 15.99 million and the birth rate was 12.41 per thousand in 2003; the dead population was 8.25 million and the mortality was 6.4 per thousand. The net increase of the population was 7.74 million and the natural growth rate was 6.01 per thousand. Comparing with 2002, the new birth in the country decreased 480,000 and the birth rate dropped 0.45 per thousand point; the deaths increased 40,000 and the mortality went down 0.01 per thousand point. The natural population growth decreased 520,000 and the natural growth rate dropped 0.44 per thousand point.

The natural increase of China's population continued to maintain steady decline after it for the first time decreased to 10 per thousand in 1998. Now although China's population is in the low growth rate period, there is an annual net increase of about 7 million of population due to the large base of the population. Thus, maintaining low birth rate remained a long-term task for China to carry on.

Following Shanghai's negative natural growth rate of population in 1993, Beijing also saw negative natural growth in its population in 2003. The natural growth rate of population was - 0.1 per thousand in Beijing and it was - 1.35 per thousand in Shanghai.

Female fertile rate continues to be on low level

1. General fertile rate of women drops year by year

In 2003, general fertile rate of women at birth age (namely the ratio between the number of babies born within one year and the number of women at age of 15 to 49) was 38.01 per thousand, down 41.52 per thousand points from 79.53 per thousand in 1990. The tendency of the changes of the rate in the past decade showed that the general fertile rate saw a drastic decline in 1991, dropping 15 per thousand points from 1990. Later the rate was on a steady decrease in the following years. If the structure of women at birth age is taken into account and the structure in 1990's census is set as a standard, the standardized fertile rate of women is still in a declining tendency, but the declining scope of the rate is narrowed.

2. The number of women at birth age declines year-on-year

In 2003, the number of women at age of 15 to 49 was 350 million, increasing 44.62 million over 1990. But after the number of women at age of 20 to 29 rose to 123 million in 1992, it started to decline year-on-year. In 2003 the number dropped to 95.88 million, at the rate of decreasing 2.22 million each year. The women at age of 23, the prime age for child bearing, decreased from 11.54 million in 1990 to 8.92 million in 2003, with a reduction of 2.62 million. The decline of the women at prime birth age played an important role in stabilizing low birth rate.

3. The first marriage age of the women at birth age on the rise

With the social development, the marriage and birth concept of the people are under changes. The first marriage age on the average of the women was on the rise from 22.93 years old in 1995 to 24.15 years old in 2001. The rise of the marriage age has played a positive role in reducing the pressure from the new born population.

Population density per sq km in China is 135 people

Population density is a main index to show population distribution form and the regional differences of population's distribution. With the increase of China's population, the population density is on the increase. Since 1982, although the population's net increase was on the decline and the growth rate of population was also on the decrease year on year, the population density is on the increase. The density of the population rose from 105 people per sq km in 1982 to 135 people per sq km in 2003, rising 30 per sq km. Now the highest population density is in Shanghai, 2,716 people per sq km, far higher than the average level in the country. Tianjin, Beijing, Jiangsu, Shandong and Henan followed Shanghai and the population density in the cities and provinces are ranging from 579 to 895 people per sq km. Population density of Ningxia, Yunnan, Heilongjiang, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Qinghai and Tibet is lower than the average level in the country. Thus, the population density in coastal regions in east China is higher and that in the central and west China regions, the population becomes scarce. The distribution pattern was determined by economic conditions and geographic conditions.

Urbanization is accelerated

The proportion of urban population is an important mark for the development of urbanization. With the reforms, opening up and economic development, China's urbanization has been greatly improved. In 2003, the urban population reached 523.76 million and the proportion of urban population is 40.53 percent. Comparing with 1990, China's urban population rose 221.81 million, up 14.12 percentage points. Comparing with developed countries, China remains at a low level of urbanization. In 1998 the average level of urbanization in the world was 47 percent. The level of urbanization in developed countries and regions was 75 percent.

The rise of the urbanization in China is based on the expansion of the urban areas and the increase of the population. In the decade of 1990 to 2000, the cities at prefectural level in China rose from 185 to 259, rising 40 percent while the cities at county level rose from 268 to 400, up 49 percent. Meanwhile, the number of towns also rose drastically. The increase of cities and expansion of urban areas promoted the urbanization level in China. The improvement of agricultural productivity and the development of secondary and tertiary industries helped rural people to transfer to the urban areas, which facilitated the development of urbanization in China.

Mortality continues to be at low level

The mortality is one of major factors in the changes of the number and structure of the population, especially the life expectancy and baby mortality constitute important indices to measure social and economic development and improvement of the quality of people's life. With the rapid social and economic development and improvement of medical conditions, the health conditions of Chinese people were apparently approved. The mortality continued to be kept at low level.

In 2003, the dead population was 8.25 million in China and the crude mortality rate was 6.4 per thousand. Comparing with 1990, the mortality level dropped 0.27 per thousand point. To deduct the incomparable factors in the changes of age structure, the mortality rate of the 1990s was standardized with the age structure of the population in 1990. Since 1990, the standardized mortality rate showed a tendency of remarkable decline, that is, dropping from 6.67 per thousand in 1990 to 4.58 per thousand in 2003, down 2.09 per thousand points.

The obvious decline of the mortality rate is seen in two groups: 0 age babies and people over 50 years old. Despite there were failed report in the deaths of 0 age babies, the investigation showed that the declining tendency of the mortality of 0-age baby was true. The death rate of the 0-age babies dropped from 23.34 per thousand in 1990 to 15.75 per thousand in 2003, down 7.59 percentage points. The mortality rate of the people at age of 50 to 64 also apparently dropped from 11.47 per thousand in 1990 to 7.62 per thousand in 2003, down 3.85 per thousand points. The largest decrease of the mortality rate was on the people over 65 years old, dropping from 56.73 per thousand in 1990 to 46.37 per thousand in 2003, down 10.36 per thousand points. The major factors for the decline of baby's death rate are the policy of family planning and optimization in fertility implemented in China, the improvement of women and infants health care system and service quality, popularization of immunity among babies and infants, and improvement of children's health care services and living conditions. Meanwhile, the health care service and living quality of senior people are also improved greatly, which facilitated the decline of senior people's death rate.

At the end of 2003, China has 96.92 million of seniors above age of 65

In 2003, the population at age of 0 to 14 in China was 285.59 million, accounting for 22.1 percent of the total population; that at age of 15 to 64, 909.76 million, accounting for 70.4 percent; the population at age above 65, 96.92 million, taking up 7.5 percent and increasing 3.15 million. The ratio between the young and senior was 33.9 percent. The median of the age is 33.9 years old. Comparing with international standard, the feature of senior society concerning age structure became conspicuous in China. Taking care of the senior and letting them to lead a happy life and give full play to their talent became an issue for the state and society to pay attention to.

Family size continues to shrink and two-generation families are major forms of Chinese households

Families are cells of society. With the development and reforms of human society, the family types and size and structure are under changes.

Since the beginning of the 1970s when China adopted family planning policy, the fertility started to decline. The family size gradually became smaller. The average number of family members decreased from 4.81 in 1973 to 4.51 in 1982, and then to 3.97 in 1990. In 2003, the number went down to 3.38. In three decades, the number of family members decreased 1.43, down 29.73 percent. Taking a view in the differences of family size in the rural and urban areas, in 2003, the family size in China's urban areas is 3.1. That in city is 3.02 and in town, 3.24. The family size in the rural areas is 3.61. The family members in the urban areas decreased 0.85 people and those in the rural areas decreased 0.96 people.

According to the distribution of family sizes, the three-member families are in highest number, reaching 31.71 percent of the total; four-member families, 22.77 percent and two-member families, 19.06 percent, in the second and third places respectively. Five-member families accounted for 18.81 percent. It means that 81.19 percent of families in the country has four or less members.

The shrinking of the family size is along with changes of generation relations of Chinese families. In 2003, the investigative materials show that two-generation families took up large proportion, at 57.53 percent; the next was three-generation families, 17.77 percent; families of a couple and one person families accounted for 13.67 and 7.71 percent respectively. Four-generation families or multiple-generation families accounted for 0.67 percent. Other kinds of families accounted for 1.38 percent. Thus, two-generation families are the major part of Chinese families and its core is parents and unmarried sons or daughters. The families accounted for over 90 percent of the total. With the changes of concepts and improvement of living standard, housing conditions and decline of fertility, the generations in families decreased and structure of the families was simplified. The multiple generation families became fewer and fewer.

On the other hand, among the households with 65 years or older seniors, 71.27 percent of them have one senior or two seniors with their sons or daughters. The two-senior households accounted for 14.03 percent and the single-senior households took up 12.35 percent. The households with seniors and their teenaged sons or daughters were 1.82 percent. The above data showed that most of China's seniors are living with their sons or daughters and they are enjoying family happiness. But single-senior households still took up a certain proportion. Thus, taking care and supporting single seniors is a problem for families and society to handle.

Marriage situation is stable and difference between the rural and urban areas is large

1. Marriage situation is stable

In 2002, among the people of 15 years old and above, the unmarried people were 19.59 percent; the people having spouse accounted for 73.61 percent and those lost spouse were 5.73 percent. The divorced people took up 1.08 percent. The low divorce rate showed the marriage relations were stable in China.

From the 1990s to 2003, the proportions of unmarried people and people lost spouses went down while the proportion of people having spouses and the divorced people were on the increase. The proportion of unmarried people dropped from 25.13 percent in 1990 to 19.59 percent in 2003. But the proportion of unmarried population aged 15 to 19 was on the increase, which shows the decreasing tendency of early marriage at young age. The proportion of population lost spouses in 2003 declined 0.39 percentage point from 1990. That of population tied in spouses rose from 68.15 percent in 1990 to 73.61 percent in 2003, up 5.46 percentage points. Now China's remarried population accounted for 1.72 percent of the population aged 15 and higher. The proportion of the divorced population was low, but the absolute number was huge. Since the 1990s, the proportion of the divorced has been on the increase year on year, rising from 0.59 percent in 1990 to 1.08 percent in 2003. Among the divorced population, male accounted for 59.37 percent while the female took up 40.62 percent, showing number of male in divorce is higher than the female. The increasing tendency of divorced people showed that more and more people demanded high quality of marriage life on one hand, and on the other hand, to families and society, there were more problems resulted from the divorced, involving family structure, and support and education of children.

2. The difference between the marriages in the rural and urban areas

The proportions of people in spouses and in divorce are higher in the urban areas than rural areas, but unmarried population and the population lost spouses were lower in the urban areas than rural areas.

In the urban areas, the proportion of population in spouses was 75.1 percent and that in rural areas was 72.49 percent. The urban area's is 2.61 percentage points higher than the rural areas. The proportion of the divorced in the urban areas was 1.51 percent, higher than the 0.75 percent in the rural areas. The proportion of unmarried population in the urban areas was 18.61 percent while that in the rural areas was 20.33 percent; the proportion in the urban areas was 1.72 percentage points lower than the rural areas. The proportion of people lost spouses in the urban areas was 4.78 percent and that in the rural areas was 6.44 percent; the proportion in the urban areas was 1.66 percentage points lower than the rural areas, which shows the health condition of the urban people is better than those in the rural areas.

Illiterate rate declines and people's education years on the increase

1. Illiterate rate drops year on year

In 1990, the total number of illiterate persons in the country reached 181.56 million and the crude illiterate rate was 15.88 percent. In 2003, the illiterate population dropped to 112.51 million while the crude illiterate rate decreased to 8.72 percent. The illiterate rate of male was 4.8 percent and that of female, 12.8 percent. The illiterate rate of the people at age of 15 to 45 decreased from 10.38 percent in 1990 to 2.39 percent in 2003. The decline of the illiterate rate represented the great efforts made by the Chinese government in improving cultural quality of the Chinese people. Now among the illiterate people at age of 15 to 45, 68.74 percent is female. The illiterate rate of young and middle-aged women was 3.32 percent, 1.84 percentage points higher than the men of same group. It calls for more efforts to enhance the work to help female to study, which will promote the improvement of the quality of young and middle-aged laborers.

2. The average years of people's education are on the increase

The average education years refers to the years of diploma education of a certain group of the people (including adult education but not including various non-diploma education). The current education years on the average was 16 years for college education, 12 years for high school education, nine years for junior high school education, six years for elementary school and zero year for illiterate people. In 2003, the average education years of the people at age of 6 or older was 7.91 years, rising 1.65 years over 1990. The major factors were the increasing population with university education as well as the fast development of secondary education.

In 2003, among the population receiving education at various levels, the people received university education accounted for 5.15 percent of the total population; those with high-school education accounted for 12.54 percent; those with junior high school education took up 35.68 percent; those with elementary education took up 31.35 percent. Of 100,000 people received education of various levels, comparing with 1990, the population with university education or higher education rose from 1,422 in 1990 to 5,147 in 2003, rising 2.62 times. Those with high school education rose 55.96 percent, and those with junior high school education rose 52.85 percent. The people with elementary school education decreased 15.67 percent.

3. Conspicuous differences on education level between the urban and rural areas

In 2003, the population received elementary school and junior high school education in the rural areas took up 75.14 percent of the total population; the population with high school education accounted for 5.86 percent of the total; that with three-year college education or higher education accounted for only 0.69 percent; the illiterate rate in the rural areas reached 11.17 percent. In the urban areas, the population with high school education or higher education accounted for 33.55 percent of the total population; that with elementary school and junior high school education took up 55.45 percent; the illiterate rate in the urban areas was 5.23 percent. Thus, there is a great gap in education levels between the population in the rural and urban areas. The increase of investment in the education service in the rural areas, especially in the development of basic education, is of strategic significance to narrowing the gap between the rural and urban areas and to the improvement of the cultural quality of the rural population as well as the Chinese nation on the whole. 

Source: China Yearbook 2004