Beijing, Shanghai record fewer residents for first time in 40 years
The number of permanent residents in Beijing and Shanghai both dropped, journalists learned at a press conference on the national economic situation, Jan. 19. This marks the first time that the number of residents in both cities declined since 1978.
By the end of 2017, the permanent population in Beijing totaled 21.71 million, 22,000 fewer than the previous year, a drop of 0.1 percent; and in Shanghai, the permanent population totaled 24.18 million, a decrease of 13,700.
Experts are watching to see if the situation indicates a long-term trend in both cities.
According to Pang Jiangqian, vice director and spokesperson of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics, there are multiple factors contributing to Beijing’s and Shanghai’s population decline, including the decreasing working-age population and descending nationwide population growth rate.
In addition, Pang explained that with the advancement of urbanization and development in central and western China, the urban-rural gap is narrowing dramatically. Resources, job opportunities, and salaries in various big cities are attracting a young labor force. Meanwhile, the relocation of Beijing’s non-capital functions and the promotion of the high-end economy have also led to a decrease of workers in labor-intensive industries.
Ding Jinhong, a researcher at the Institute of Population Research, East China Normal University, points out that Shanghai’s younger generation tend to be less eager to start a family, which has resulted in a population drop.
Meanwhile, the unaffordable house prices in Shanghai also play a role in driving migrant workers away.
According to city management plans, Beijing and Shanghai are on track to cap their residential population at 23 million and 25 million, respectively, by 2020 and 2035.