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Presentation

2nd Revision

Introduction

 
Data - Urbanization
Definitions of Urban / Rural, City, Town, and County in China
The following definitions are from: China Statistical Yearbook, 1998, Beijing, p.123.
Urban Population
  Population living in areas under the jurisdiction of cities and towns.
Rural Population
  Population living in counties - except those living in towns.
This definition is simple and clear only on first sight. The problem is, that counties can include towns. Hence, not all of the county population is rural. Moreover, cities can include counties. Hence, not all of the population living in cities is urban. The real trouble, however, begins, when we look at the definitions of towns. It mixes territorial and functional elements: only if the administrative unit has a certain proportion of non-agricultural population it is defined as a town.
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City
  Cities are established with approval of the central government.
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Town (prior to 1964 definition)
1. An area with more than 2,000 permanent residents, of which 50% or more where non-agricultural population.
Town (1964 revision of the definition)
1. An area with more than 3,000 permanent residents, of which 70% or more where non-agricultural population; or
2. an area with more than 2,500, but less than 3,000 permanent residents, of which 85% or more where non-agricultural population.
Town (1984 adjustment of the definition)
1. An area, being the location of county-level government agency; or
2. a township with a total population of less than 20,000, where the non-agricultural population of the location of a township government exceeds 2,000;
3. a township with a total population of more than 20,000, where the proportion of the non-agricultural population to the total population of the location of a township government is greater than 10%; or
4. a remote area, mountainous area, small-sized mining area, small harbor, tourism area, or border area with non-agricultural population less than 2,000.
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On closer inspection of this definitions it becomes clear that the size of urban population in China - as it appears in official statistics - basically depends on how non-agricultural population is defined. Unfortunately, this distinction is made by the local residence committees in towns and by village committees in townships. Their decisions are neither consistent across the country nor transparent - and probably related to a certain level of corruption, since the status of a non-agricultural resident implies significant privileges (apartment, job, subsidized food, etc.).
In conclusion we can say that Chinese urbanization statistics are biased by the specific residence registration procedure, which is a relic from the pre-reform economic control system. 
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Related Tables & Charts

Various Projections of China's Urban Populationblank_3.gif (810 bytes)Population by Registered versus De-facto Place of Residenceblank_3.gif (810 bytes)Migration between Provincesblank_3.gif (810 bytes)Rural Population in China by Selected Definitionblank_3.gif (810 bytes)Urban & Rural Population, 1952 - 1989blank_3.gif (810 bytes)Food Industry Indicatorsblank_3.gif (810 bytes)State Grain Procurement (primarily for urban population)blank_3.gif (810 bytes)blank_3.gif (810 bytes)blank_3.gif (810 bytes)blank_3.gif (810 bytes)Agricultural & Non-Agricultural Population by Place of Residenceblank_3.gif (810 bytes)Agricultural & Non-Agricultural Population by Place of Residenceblank_3.gif (810 bytes)Average Annual per cap. Income of Urban and Rural Householdsblank_3.gif (810 bytes)Agricultural & Non-agricultural Population in Provincial Capitals

Revision 2.0 (First revision published in 1999)  - Copyright 2011 by Gerhard K. Heilig. All rights reserved. (First revision: Copyright 1999 by IIASA.)