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The great urban shift: More Chinese now live in cities than countryside

The great urban shift: More Chinese now live in cities than countryside

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For the first time in the history of China, more of its mainland population are living in cities than in rural villages.

For the first time in the history of China, more of its mainland population are living in cities than in rural villages.

National Bureau of Statistics of China said today that of the 1.3 billion people living in China, 51 percent -- or 690 million -- are now living in cities. The number does not include residents living in Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Macau.

As Bloomberg reports, it's this urban shift that has helped China become a global economic powerhouse.

China’s urbanization has accelerated since Deng Xiaoping introduced capitalist reforms in the late 1970s, lifting more than 200 million people out of poverty and transforming the nation into the world’s second-largest economy and its biggest consumer of steel, copper and coal. That migration may have decades more to run, diluting an agrarian economy that was once the ruling Communist Party’s power base.

“Urbanization has been a fundamental driver behind China’s economic growth,” said Chang Jian, an economist at Barclays Capital in Hong Kong who formerly worked for the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the World Bank. “Urbanization in China still has a long way to go, maybe for another 20 years.”

The trend in China follows right along with global urbanization patterns. Throughout the world, 51 percent of people live in urban areas. While in the U.S., 82 percent are considered urbanites.

Photo: domi-san/Flickr

China’s Urban Population Exceeds Countryside for First Time [Bloomberg]

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure