China: Urban and Rural Population, by year
YearUrban regions,
in million inhabitants
Rural regions,
in million inhabitants
  • Region: China
  • Time period: 2013 to 2023
  • Published: Jan 2024

Data Analysis and Insights

Updated: Apr 3, 2024 | Published by: Statistico

Urban Population Growth Compared to Rural Decline

Urban regions in China have experienced a steady increase in population from 745.02 million in 2013 to 932.67 million in 2023, indicating a growth of 187.65 million inhabitants over the decade. In contrast, the rural population has consistently decreased from 622.24 million to 477.00 million within the same period, showing a significant decline of 145.24 million inhabitants.

Yearly Urban Migration Rate Accelerates

Analyzing the annual increase in urban population reveals an accelerating trend, with the yearly growth rate climbing from 22.36 million between 2013 and 2014 to a more pronounced 11.96 million jump from 2022 to 2023. This acceleration emphasizes the escalating pace at which people are migrating to urban areas or the urban population is growing through other means.

Rural to Urban Shift Intensity

The data underscores a significant rural to urban shift, as evidenced by the narrowing difference in population figures between urban and rural areas from a gap of 122.78 million in 2013 to merely 455.67 million by 2023. This trend highlights the intense urbanization rate and the diminishing rural demographic.

Consistent Urbanization Trend Across the Decade

Over the last decade, China's urbanization has been remarkably consistent, with the urban population growing every year. The smallest annual increase observed was 22.36 million from 2013 to 2014, and the largest was 24.64 million from 2018 to 2019, illustrating a steady yet significant urban population boom.

Rapid Decline of Rural Population

The decrease in China's rural population presents a stark contrast to urban growth, with an average yearly reduction of approximately 14.52 million inhabitants. This steady decline from 622.24 million in 2013 to 477.00 million in 2023 indicates an ongoing rural exodus or demographic shift towards urban areas.

Comparison of Urban Growth to Rural Decline Rates

While the urban population increased by approximately 187.65 million over the past decade, the rural areas lost about 145.24 million inhabitants during the same period. This comparison not only reflects the scale of urbanization but also the significant depopulation of rural regions.

The Balance Shift in Urban vs. Rural Populations

The balance between urban and rural populations has dramatically shifted towards urbanization over the past decade. In 2013, the urban population was only 122.78 million more than the rural population. By 2023, this difference more than doubled to 455.67 million, indicating a significant shift in living patterns and population distribution across China.

Frequently Asked Questions

How has the urban population in China changed in recent years?

The urban population in China increased from 745.02 million in 2013 to 932.67 million in 2023, signalling a growth of 187.65 million inhabitants.

What is the trend observed in the rural population in China during the same decade?

The rural population in China decreased from 622.24 million in 2013 to 477.00 million in 2023, meaning a decline of 145.24 million inhabitants.

Terms and Definitions

Urban population refers to the number of people living in cities, towns, and suburbs. This group typically has access to a wide range of services, such as water and sanitation, electricity, schools, hospitals, and other infrastructures. The nature of urban areas also means that the residents usually live in a higher density compared to rural areas, with different employment opportunities, often focusing on services and industry.

Rural population is a term used for the people living in areas that are not considered urban, typically characterized by lower population density, smaller settlements, and vast geographical areas. These areas may lack a lot of the amenities and services that are common in urban locations. Agriculture is usually the primary source of income in rural populations.

Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is often used for the purpose of comparison and it can provide insights about the lifestyle, living conditions, and how populated or crowded a certain area might be.

Urbanization refers to the increasing number of people that live in urban areas. It is driven by various political, economic, and social factors. It often involves the transformation of rural areas into towns and cities, leading to significant changes in lifestyle, living conditions, and work opportunities.

Urban sprawl is the expansion of a metropolitan or urban area into lower density, often rural, car-dependent communities. It is often criticized for its impact on human health, the environment, and rural culture.

Rural-urban migration is the movement of people from rural areas to urban areas. This commonly occurs when individuals seek better living conditions, improved accessibility to social services, or increased job opportunities.
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