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. The downtown St. Louis skyline.
    Perspective

    Downtown St. Louis Is Rising; Black St. Louis Is Being Razed

    Square co-founder Jack Dorsey is expanding the company’s presence in St. Louis and demolishing vacant buildings on the city’s north side.

  2. Warren Logan
    Transportation

    A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

    Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

  3. a photo of Housing Secretary Ben Carson in Baltimore in July.
    Equity

    How HUD Could Dismantle a Pillar of Civil Rights Law

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to revise the “disparate impact” rule, which could fundamentally reshape federal fair housing enforcement.  

  4. a photo of the L.A. Metro Expo Line extension
    Life

    Why Can’t I Take Public Transit to the Beach?

    In the U.S., getting to the beach usually means driving. But some sandy shores can still be reached by train, subway, and bus.

  5. an aerial view of Los Angeles shows the complex of freeways, new construction, familiar landmarks, and smog in 1962.
    Transportation

    The Problem With Amazon’s Cheap Gas Stunt

    The company promoted its TV show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with a day of throwback 1959-style prices in Los Angeles. What could go wrong?

×