Beijing and Shanghai are amongst a total of five province-level Chinese administrative entities to post negative growth in their permanent presidential populations last year.
The latest official data from regional authorities indicates that at least five of China’s province-level entities saw negative growth in their permanent residential populations in 2017, including Beijing, Jilin, Liaoning, Shanghai and Tianjin.
With the exception of Shanghai all of these provinces are located in northern China. Both Jilin and Liaoning are provinces in the north-east, while Beijing and Tianjin lie at the centre of Hebei province.
Beijing shed a total of 22,000 permanent residents in 2017, while Shanghai saw a decline of 13,700 permanent residents, and Tianjin a population reduction of 55,000.
Liaoning’s permanent residential population fell by 91,000 in 2017, while Jilin saw a drop of 156,000 year-round residents.
Experts impute the population decline to the shifts in the industrial structure of large swathes of northern China.
“Permanent population growth is slow in many parts of northern China, with some areas even seeing negative growth in their permanent populations,” said Wang Jinying (王金营), head of the economics faculty of Hebei University, to 21st Century Business Herald.
“In the background this is related to adjustments to the industrial structure of these places…Tianjin and Beijing are undergoing a refinement of functions, while in the north-east it’s the impacts on the growth of heavy-industry.
“The next step could be for economic competition between these regions to become more intense, and permanent populations could change even more.”
Yang Chenggang (杨成钢), head of the demographic research faculty at China’s Southwestern University of Finance and Economics and director of the China Population Association, said that policymakers needs to scrutinise the reasons for population outflows in the northern part of the country.
“During the process of economic development, population is a key factory of production, and development opportunities in the north-east and the north of China are shrinking, leading to population flows to other cities,” said Yang.
“Economic development is eventually embodied in dynamic changes in the balances and imbalances between regional development.”
While many other provinces around China posted net growth in their permanent residential populations, when natural growth factors are taken into account they are actually seeing net population outflows.
These provinces include Henan, Shandong, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guizhou and Inner Mongolia.
Shandong province, for example, posted 1.7498 million births in 2017 as compared to 738,200 deaths, for a natural population increase of 1.0116 million.
Shandong’s actual permanent residential population only increased by 588,300 in 2017 however, for a real outflow of over 400,000 people to other provinces in China.
Other provinces saw similar outflows in their permanent residential populations in 2017, including Henan province (380,000), Hubei province (159,500), Jiangxi province 57,000) and Hunan province (42,000).