Reuters

The majority of China now lives in cities

The most populated country in the world is officially urbanized.

China's leaders have at last announced that, for the first time in the county's history, people living in cities outnumber people living in the countryside. Urbanites account for 51.27 percent of the Chinese population (that's 690.8 million people, according to the country's National Bureau of Statistics).

As the Wall Street Journal reports, the world's most populous country's rapid urban growth is far from over: hundreds of millions more people are expected to pour into China's cities over the next two decades in search of higher paying jobs. To keep the country together, officials will have to reckon with how to build vast swaths of urban housing, sweeping transportation systems and a welfare net.

A bit of perspective on the shift:

City dwellers represented just 10.6 percent  of China's population in 1949, when the Communist Party took power, and just under 19 percent in 1979, when it launched the market reforms, according to official Chinese statistics. That means that in the economic boom of the past three decades, China has roughly matched what economic historians say took about 200 years in Britain, 100 years in the U.S. and 50 years in Japan.

Read more about the Chinese government's efforts to adapt to the country's rapidly-shifting demographics here.

Photo credit: Bobby Yip/Reuters

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Videos

    5 Ways to Seriously Battle Traffic

    So long as cars are among us, road pricing, ramp meters, and diamond-shaped intersections can mitigate horrendous commutes, a new video explains.

  2. Transportation

    Why Are Manhattan's Streets Getting Slower?

    The average speed of traffic has been falling for years, and it’s having a ripple effect on the city’s transit network.

  3. Tomatoes, scallions, asparagus, and other vegetables spread out on a table
    Life

    For Peak Happiness, Spend Money to Save Time

    A study suggests time-saving services like meal delivery and housekeepers boost life satisfaction—for the purchaser, of course.

  4. An empty storefront on a sidewalk with a "retail space for lease" sign in the window
    Life

    How Cities Can Save Small Shops

    Some places are already taking action, but New York City is lagging behind. Here’s a blueprint for keeping local retail healthy.

  5. Equity

    Why Some Women Don't Actually Have Privacy Rights

    A law professor explores the reasons why women who need government assistance are forced to divulge intimate details of their lives.