New Delhi-based think-tank Organisation for Research on China and Asia (ORCA) has published an interactive dashboard on China’s Census.
Prepared by Senior Research Associate Rahul Karan Reddy and Research Associate Omkar Bhole, the dashboard illustrates several dimensions of China’s demographic structure at the provincial level. It is accompanied by a report with key findings. The dashboard summarizes data for the last three China censuses conducted in 2000, 2010 and 2020.
China’s 7th Census is considered the most comprehensive resource on China’s population, vital for future planning especially as the Communist Party of China (CPC) struggles with demographic challenges. China’s census data gauges changes in the size and diversity of its population; it is an essential tool for assessing the future direction of CPC policies.
This dashboard emerges as a unique, excellent tool for understanding China’s Census to review demographics that guide domestic infrastructure and social welfare investments in China.
For this dashboard, the researchers took the 7th census conducted in 2020 as a reference point. This census was carried out by over 7 million officers across China operating through 6,79,000 census agencies opened across all administrative divisions. A key deduction by Bhole and Reddy has been on Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
Throughout all three censuses, Tibet has had the lowest literacy rate among all provinces. It also has the lowest urbanization rate as only 35 per cent of its population lives in urban areas, which has doubled in the last 20 years (18 per cent in 2000). Other provinces such as Yunnan, Guizhou, Gansu and Henan also have only half its population living in urban areas, which is well below the national average of 63 per cent.
As per other key findings of this project by ORCA, Reddy and Bhole found that as per the 2020 census, Guangdong and Shandong remain the most populous provinces, continuing the trend of the 2010 census. China’s eastern provinces accounted for almost 40 per cent of its total population, followed by western provinces (27.12 per cent) and central provinces (25.83 per cent). The sex ratio (number of males per 100 females) in Jilin and Liaoning is below 100. In contrast, other provinces have registered a sex ratio closer to the national average of 104.99, with only 3 provinces having a sex ratio above 110. Coastal provinces such as Shanghai, Guangdong and Zhejiang have a larger share of the working-age population due to more economic opportunities.
Similarly, the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning also have a dominant working-age population, indicating these provinces still hold some economic value in terms of employment. The share of the elderly population has increased in all provinces over the last three censuses. Sichuan, Liaoning and Chongqing have a higher proportion of the elderly population compared to other provinces, especially eastern provinces which have a lower share than the national average of 13 per cent. In the 2000 census, China had an average literacy rate of around 92 per cent which increased to 97 per cent in 2020. Except for a few, most provinces have a literacy rate above 90% since the 2000 census.
ORCA’s work on China’s internal politics and policy-making is filling a critical gap in China research that Indian research institutes have lessened focus on. The organisation’s work is of serious value to the strategic community in India and abroad, especially as understanding China from the inside out remains central to figuring out the long game of the one-party country.
As one of the few think tanks in the country working consistently on internal China and its politics, this dashboard is meant to assist China analysts in understanding broad national and provincial trends in China’s demographics, thereby allowing them to identify important provinces and factors responsible for driving national demographic trends. (ANI)