China: Share of Urban Population, by year
YearShare of urban population,
in %
  • Region: China
  • Time period: 1980 to 2023
  • Published: Jan 2024

Data Analysis and Insights

Updated: Apr 13, 2024 | Published by: Statistico | About Us / Data / Analysis

Acceleration of Urbanization

Urbanization in China has experienced a significant acceleration, with the share of the urban population increasing from 19.39% in 1980 to 66.16% in 2023. This marks a remarkable growth of 46.77 percentage points over 43 years, showcasing a transformative shift towards urban living.

Decade of Rapid Urban Growth

The decade between 2000 and 2010 was particularly pivotal, witnessing a growth of 13.73 percentage points in urban population share, from 36.22% to 49.95%. This period underscores a critical phase in China's urbanization trajectory, reflecting broader economic and social reforms.

Consistent Annual Increases

China's urban population share has consistently increased annually, without any year showing a decline. For instance, from 2019 to 2020, the urban population share rose from 62.71% to 63.89%, highlighting steady urbanization even in recent years.

Acceleration in Recent Years

Recent years have seen a notable acceleration in urbanization, with an increase of 1.2 percentage points from 2020 to 2021, and then a further increase to 66.16% by 2023. These increments underscore a continued push towards urbanization at an even faster pace in the last few years.

Early Stages of Urban Growth

In the initial stages of urbanization, from 1980 to 1985, the urban population share grew by 4.32 percentage points, from 19.39% to 23.71%. This early growth laid the foundational shifts towards urban living in China.

Long-term Urbanization Trend

Over a span of four decades, China's urban population share increased at an average rate of approximately 1.17 percentage points per year, highlighting a sustained long-term trend towards urbanization.

Significant Milestones in Urbanization

China reached significant milestones in its urbanization journey, with the urban population share surpassing 50% in 2011, making it a predominantly urban nation. This milestone represents a critical shift in demographic patterns.

Comparing Recent Decadal Growth

The growth in urban population share from 2010 to 2020, at approximately 13.94 percentage points, slightly outpaces the growth from 2000 to 2010, indicating a sustained or slightly increased pace in urbanization in the most recent decade.

Impact of Recent Developments

Given the data ends in 2023 and it is now 2024, the consistent year-on-year increase in urban population share suggests that China's urbanization likely continued to advance beyond 2023, further entrenching urban living as the predominant mode of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What has been the growth in urbanization in China in last decades?

The share of the urban population in China grew from 19.39% in 1980 to 66.16% in 2023, a significant increase of 46.77 percentage points.

Terms and Definitions

An urban population refers to the population living in towns, cities, and suburbs. This population is characterized by a high density of inhabitants, a vast number of man-made structures, and an established social and economic system.

Urbanization is a sociological process referring to the shift of population from rural areas to urban areas. This often results in the physical growth of urban areas, whether from the development of new areas or the increase in density in existing areas.

Population density is a measurement of population per unit area. For cities, this is often expressed as people per square kilometer.

Rural population refers to people living in areas classified as rural, typically characterized by low-density settlements, agricultural-based economic activity, and significant areas of undeveloped land.

Demography is the statistical study of populations, including birth rate, death rate, growth rate, age distribution, and population density. It helps to understand how populations change over time.

Migration is the movement of people from one place to another with intentions of settling temporarily or permanently. In this context, it would refer to the movement of people from rural to urban areas.

Urban sprawl refers to the uncontrolled and often poorly planned expansion of cities into surrounding rural areas. This process often involves the development of suburban neighborhoods, commercial centers, and other urban features.
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