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Journal of Geographical Sciences    2015, Vol. 25 Issue (12) : 1507-1520     DOI: 10.1007/s11442-015-1248-x
Research Articles |
Spatial pattern and its evolution of Chinese provincial population: Methods and empirical study
DENG Yu1,2,LIU Shenghe1,2,CAI Jianming1,2,LU Xi3,*(),Chris P NIELSEN3
1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
2. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
3. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
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Abstract  

China has been experiencing an unprecedented urbanization process. In 2011, China’s urban population reached 691 million with an urbanization rate of 51.27%. Urbanization level is expected to increase to 70% in China in 2030, reflecting the projection that nearly 300 million people would migrate from rural areas to urban areas over this period. At the same time, the total fertility rate of China’s population is declining due to the combined effect of economic growth, environmental carrying capacity, and modern social consciousness. The Chinese government has loosened its “one-child policy” gradually by allowing childbearing couples to have the second child as long as either of them is from a one-child family. In such rapidly developing country, the natural growth and spatial migration will consistently reshape spatial pattern of population. An accurate prediction of the future spatial pattern of population and its evolution trend are critical to key policy-making processes and spatial planning in China including urbanization, land use development, ecological conservation and environmental protection. In this paper, a top-down method is developed to project the spatial distribution of China’s future population with considerations of both natural population growth at provincial level and the provincial migration from 2010 to 2050. Building on this, the spatial pattern and evolution trend of Chinese provincial population are analyzed. The results suggested that the overall spatial pattern of Chinese population will be unlikely changed in next four decades, with the east area having the highest population density and followed by central area, northeast and west area. Four provinces in the east, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin and Jiangsu, will remain the top in terms of population density in China, and Xinjiang, Qinghai and Tibet will continue to have the lowest density of population. We introduced an index system to classify the Chinese provinces into three categories in terms of provincial population densities: Fast Changing Populated Region (FCPR), Low Changing Populated Region (LCPR) and Inactive Populated Region (IPR). In the FCPR, China’s population is projected to continue to concentrate in net immigration leading type (NILT) area where receives nearly 99% of new accumulated floating population. Population densities of Shanghai, Beijing, Zhejiang will peak in 2030, while the population density in Guangdong will keep increasing until 2035. Net emigration leading type (NELT) area will account for 75% of emigration population, including Henan, Anhui, Chongqing and Hubei. Natural growth will play a dominant role in natural growth leading type area, such as Liaoning and Shandong, because there will be few emigration population. Due to the large amount of moving-out labors and gradually declining fertility rates, population density of the LCPR region exhibits a downward trend, except for Fujian and Hainan. The majority of the western provinces will be likely to remain relatively low population density, with an average value of no more than 100 persons per km2.

Keywords China      provincial      population      urbanization      migration      spatial pattern      natural growth     
Fund:Key Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.71433008.Key Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.KZZD-EW-06-04.National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41271174.National Key Technology R&D Program, No.2012BAI32B06.Beijing Planning of Philosophy and Social Science, No.13CSC011
Issue Date: 05 January 2016
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DENG Yu
LIU Shenghe
CAI Jianming
LU Xi
Chris P NIELSEN
Cite this article:   
DENG Yu,LIU Shenghe,CAI Jianming, et al. Spatial pattern and its evolution of Chinese provincial population: Methods and empirical study[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2015, 25(12): 1507-1520.
URL:  
http://www.geogsci.com/EN/10.1007/s11442-015-1248-x     OR     http://www.geogsci.com/EN/Y2015/V25/I12/1507
2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050
Total population 133972.49 136974.3 138779.2 139525.6 139307.6 138158.8 136090.6 133176.8 129560.4
Urban population 669192.56 761579 846363 911804 957649 984446 998581 1004090 1001612
Urbanization rate 0.49 0.55 0.61 0.65 0.69 0.71 0.73 0.75 0.77
Table 1  Main indicators of population forecasting by the UN
Year Registered residence (million)
Total Urban area Rural area
Subtotal Intra-
province
Inter-
province
Subtotal Intra-
province
Inter-
province
Up to 2010 212.25 83.85 70.39 13.46 128.4 75.25 53.15
Up to 2000 98.12 43.39 37.93 5.46 54.74 35.44 19.30
2000-2010 114.13 40.47 32.46 8.01 73.66 39.81 33.85
Table 2  Net-migration population to the urban area at national level
Parameters or variables Definition
Rn,t Population natural growth rate in province n for year t
Pn,t Population amount for natural growth in province n for year t
P'n,t Improved population amount for natural growth in province n for year t
UP Total urban population
ΔMR Migration amounts from rural to urban area
ΔNM Net inter-provincial migration matrix
TPM Net transition probability matrix
M Migration amount
ΔM Total net migration amounts
δn, t Difference between provincial population projection and the data from the UNs in province n for year t
TPn,t Total population amount in province n for year t
Sn,t Area of province in province n for year t
DPn,t Population density of province in province n for year t
An Variance of population density of province n
Bn Ratio of new accumulated net-migration to maximum of the total population in province n
Cn Ratio of new accumulated net-migration to maximum of natural growth population of province n
Table 3  Definitions of variables or parameters used in this analysis
Province Population 2000
(million)
Decade natural growth rate Projected natural growth population 2010 (million) Reported net migration 2000-2010 number
(million)
Projected population 2010 (million) a Reported population 2010
(million)
Percentage of projected population error b
Beijing 13.82 1.81 14.07 +4.40 18.47 19.61 5.81%
Tianjin 10.01 1.80 10.19 +2.07 12.26 12.94 5.26%
Hebei 67.44 5.99 71.48 -1.81 69.67 71.85 3.03%
Shanxi 32.97 5.90 34.91 -0.51 34.4 35.71 3.67%
Inner Mongolia 23.76 4.03 24.72 +0.33 25.05 24.71 1.38%
Liaoning 42.38 1.11 42.85 +0.09 42.94 43.75 1.85%
Jilin 27.28 2.33 27.91 -0.62 27.29 27.46 0.62%
Heilongjiang 36.89 2.35 37.76 -1.26 36.5 38.31 4.72%
Shanghai 16.74 1.01 16.91 +5.73 22.64 23.02 1.65%
Jiangsu 74.38 2.34 76.12 +3.50 79.62 78.66 1.22%
Zhejiang 46.77 4.44 48.85 +7.76 56.61 54.43 4.01%
Anhui 59.86 6.32 63.64 -4.81 58.83 59.50 1.13%
Fujian 34.71 6.05 36.81 +1.31 38.12 36.89 3.33%
Jiangxi 41.40 8.08 44.74 -1.76 42.98 44.57 3.57%
Shandong 90.79 5.27 95.57 -0.91 94.66 95.79 1.18%
Henan 92.56 5.42 97.58 -5.44 92.14 94.02 2.00%
Hubei 60.28 2.93 62.05 -2.68 59.37 57.24 3.72%
Hunan 64.40 5.35 67.84 -2.55 65.29 65.68 0.59%
Guangdong 86.42 7.65 93.03 +5.98 99.01 104.30 5.07%
Guangxi 44.89 7.98 48.47 -1.33 47.14 46.03 2.41%
Hainan 7.87 9.07 8.58 +0.05 8.63 8.67 0.46%
Chongqing 30.90 3.21 31.89 -1.96 29.93 28.85 3.74%
Sichuan 83.29 3.03 85.81 -1.38 84.43 80.42 4.99%
Guizhou 35.25 8.23 38.15 -2.10 36.05 34.75 3.74%
Yunnan 42.88 8.10 46.35 -1.07 45.28 45.97 1.50%
Tibet 2.62 11.17 2.91 +0.02 2.93 3.00 2.33%
Shaanxi 36.05 4.07 37.52 -0.61 36.91 37.33 1.13%
Gansu 25.62 6.38 27.26 -0.80 26.46 25.58 3.44%
Qinghai 5.18 9.76 5.69 +0.05 5.74 5.63 1.95%
Ningxia 5.62 10.52 6.21 +0.04 6.25 6.30 0.79%
Xinjiang 19.25 10.99 21.37 +0.24 21.61 21.81 0.92%
Table 4  A comparison between reported population and projected population in 2010
Year Total population
(million)
Urban population
(million)
Urbanization rate Growth in
urban population
(million)
Migration from rural
to urban area
Growth in migration of inter-province
(million)
Inter- province Intra- province Total
2000 1259.95 456.35 0.36 - - - - -
2010 1339.72 669.19 0.50 212.84 34.23 40.26 74.49 46.07
2015 1369.74 761.58 0.56 92.39 12.74 14.98 27.72 17.34
2020 1387.79 846.36 0.61 84.78 11.69 13.75 25.42 15.91
2025 1395.26 911.80 0.65 65.44 6.01 7.07 13.08 8.19
2030 1393.08 957.65 0.69 45.85 2.11 2.48 4.59 2.87
2035 1381.59 984.45 0.71 26.80 0.00 1.61 1.61 0.00
2040 1360.91 998.58 0.73 14.14 0.00 0.57 0.57 0.00
2045 1331.77 1004.09 0.75 5.51 0.00 0.11 0.11 0.00
2050 1295.60 1001.61 0.77 -2.48 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Table 5  Provincial migration in China
Figure 1  Net transition probability of each province
Figure 2  Provincial population density and its ranking change in 2010-2050
Regional type Criterion Ratio of new accumulated floating population (%) Ratio of new accumulated natural population growth (%) Province
Class Sub-classes A B C
Fast
Changing Populated
Region
Net immigration leading type A>10 b>5% c>>1 99 18 Beijing, Tianjin,
Jiangsu, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Guangdong
Net emigration leading type B<-5% c<<-1 -75 14 Henan, Anhui, Chongqing, Hubei
Natural growth leading type b≈0% |c|≈0 -1 6 Liaoning, Shandong
Low
Changing
Populated
Region
Net immigration type 5<a<10 0<b<5% 0<c<1 1 5 Fujian, Hainan
Net emigration type -5%<b<0 -1<c<0 -18 31 Hebei, Shanxi, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Sichuan, Shaanxi
Inactive Populated Region a<5 0<b<5% |c|≈0 -6 26 Guizhou, Yunnan, Ningxia, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Qinghai, Tibet
Table 6  Regional type and its characters of spatial pattern
Figure 3  Population densities forecasting for fast changing populated region in 2010-2050 Note: “—” denotes there’s net emigration population
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