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China’s population quality continuously improves--understanding the 7th national population census data

On May 11, the results of the seventh national census was officially released: in 2020, China’s population reached 1.41178 billion, making up around 18% of the global population. China remains the most populous country in the world.

“The main changes in China’s population over the past decade reflected the historical process of the nation’s population growth and socio-economic development. It also conforms to the trend of population growth and the objective law of interaction between the population and the economy and society,” said Ning Jizhe, director of the National Bureau of Statistics. Ning pointed out at a news conference of the State Council Information Office that the census data also reflects some structural contradictions in China’s population growth, such as the decreasing numbers of working-age people and women of child-bearing age, the intensifying problem of ageing, the dropping total fertility rate and the declining newly-born population.

A leap from 1.3 billion to 1.4 billion

The census data shows that the national population in 2020 was 1.41178 billion, an increase of 72.06 million compared with 1.33972 billion in 2010. The annual growth rate was 0.53%, 0.04 percentage-points lower than that of 0.57% in 2010. A slow population growth has been maintained over the past decade.

An average age of 38.3, a higher proportion of children

In terms of the age structure, the increase in the number of children has improved the proportion of children in the population. The number of children aged from 0 to 14 increased 30.92 million compared with that in 2010, with the proportion rising by 1.35 percentage points. Policy measures such as the selective two-child policy and the universal two-child policy have lift the birth population back to growth.

The census data also shows that with a working-age population (aged from 16 to 59) of 880 million, China still boosts abundant labor resources. The average age of Chinese people was 38.8, indicating we're still a nation in the full vigor of life.

218 million with college degrees, talent dividends gradually come into play

According to the census data, in 2020, the number of people with college-or-above degrees was 218,360,767. The number of such people in every 100,000 people rose from 8,930 in 2010 to 15,467.

“In terms of population quality, the education levels of Chinese people were significantly improved.” Ning told the reporter that in 2020, the average years of schooling for people aged 15 and over rose to 9.91 from 9.08 in 2010, and that for working-age population (aged from 16 to 59) rose to 10.75 from 9.67 in 2010. The illiteracy rate fell to 2.67% from 4.08% in 2010. With the continuous improvement of population quality, new advantages of the talent dividends will present themselves gradually. Meanwhile, as population growth slows down, measures should also be taken to realize long-term, balanced growth.

260 million aged 60 and over, the challenge of aging

The census data shows that there were 260 million people aged 60 and over, accounting for 18.70% of the total population; 190 million aged 65 and over, accounting for 13.50% of the total population. While the aged population was large in scale, the aging process quickened apparently and presented different levels in rural and urban areas. “The aging of the population is a major trend of social development, it will also remain a basic national condition for a long period of time in the future, which means both challenge and opportunity. As a challenge, it will reduce the supply of labor force, increase the family burden of elderly care and the pressure on the supply of basic public services.” Ning pointed out it is also noteworthy that population aging brought new opportunities as it boosted the silver economy, expanded the consumption of products and services for elderly people, and contributed to technological advancement.

[ Editor: GSY ]