Beijing’s population revealed to have decreased in 2017

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Editor‘s note

This report is based on an article in Chinese published by a Wemedia account named 京事儿 . You can find the original here


The “Blue Book of Beijing’s Population”, produced by the Research Centre on Beijing’s Population and Social Development of Beijing’s Municipal Party Committee School and the Social Sciences Academic Press, was officially released on the 9th of December. It reports on the current situation and the tendencies regarding Beijing’s population. Below are five findings from the Blue Book that can give you a picture of the situation at the macro-level.


The number of migrants and the registered population has dropped

Since 1949, the population of Beijing has been on the rise, but the latest data in 2017 shows that both the number of migrants and the registered population in Beijing has dropped.

In 2017, the population of long-term residents in Beijing was 21.710 million, a decrease of 22,000 from the end of the previous year. Out of these, people coming from other parts of China without a local household registration (户口) were 7.943 million, a decrease of 132,000 compared with the end of the previous year. Their proportion within the total population decreased from 37.2% in 2016 to 36.6% in 2017. The population with a local household registration was 13.592 million, a decrease of 37,000 from the end of the previous year.


The population’s ageing is deepening

The Blue Book indicates that Beijing’s population has already entered the ageing phase, and the ageing is deepening. In 2010, the number of elderly people aged 65 and over in Beijing was 1.709 million, accounting for 8.7% of the total population. In 2017 the number was 2.376 million, accounting for 10.5% of the total population.

Corresponding to the increase in the proportion of the elderly, the proportion of the working-age population aged 15-64 is declining year by year, dropping from 82.7% in 2010 to 78.6% in 2017. Furthermore, the total dependency ratio increased from 21% in 2010 to 27% in 2017. In other words, it takes about four workers to raise one retired elderly.


Fertility rates remain ultra-low

The birth rate in Beijing fell below 10% in 1991, and has not exceeded 10% since then.

From 1998 to 2006 the birth rate reached its lowest level, around 5% to 6%. After 2007 the rate rebounded. In particular, after the introduction of the “Comprehensive Two-Child” policy in 2015, the birth rate of Beijing increased from 7.96% in 2015 to 9.06% in 2017, but it still did not exceed 10%, remaining at an “ultra-low” level. Nevertheless, the birth rate in Beijing’s Pinggu and Daxing districts exceeded 10%.

The mortality rate in Beijing has remained basically unchanged. During the 20 years from 1998 to 2017, it was stable at around 5%.


Migrants are concentrated in the area from the fourth to the sixth ring

According to the blue book, the most populous area in the city is Chaoyang District, with a registered population of 3.74 million; Haidian District ranks second with a registered population of 3.48 million.

At the same time, these two districts also attract a large number of migrants (outsiders without the local household registration). The number of migrants in these two districts is nearly 3 million, accounting for nearly 40% of the total migrant population. The size of the migrant population in Changping District exceeds that of the locally registered population.

Unlike the centripetal distribution of the registered population, the migrant population in Beijing is concentrated mostly in the area between the fourth and sixth ring roads, and the gathering area continues to expand outward.


The DINK phenomenon is becoming more common

From the perspective of the size of urban households, two-person and three-person households are the most frequent, and the ratio of both is about 30%. In the past two years the proportion of two-person households has increased slightly, while the proportion of three-person households has declined slightly.

The blue book points out that at present, Beijing faces many difficulties and challenges regarding its population development, which includes the large population, the incomplete care service for infants and kids, the low fertility rate, the unbalanced population distribution, the shortage of high-tech and innovative talents, the ageing society and the intensified population pressure on the environment.