Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2017, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (8): 925-942.doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1413-5

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The past, present, and future of population geography in China:Progress, challenges and opportunities

Zhiming FENG1,2,3(), Fangzhou LI1,4, Yanzhao YANG1,2(), Peng LI1   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. Collaborative Innovation Center for Geopolitical Setting of Southwest China and Borderland Development, Kunming 650500, China
    4. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2016-01-12 Accepted:2016-04-30 Online:2017-08-31 Published:2017-09-15
  • About author:

    Author: Feng Zhiming (1963-), PhD and Professor, specialized in regional sustainable development and efficient utilization of resources. E-mail: fengzm@igsnrr.ac.cn

    *Corresponding author: Yang Yanzhao (1977-), PhD and Professor, specialized in regional sustainable development and efficient utilization of resources. E-mail: yangyz@igsnrr.ac.cn

  • Supported by:
    Key Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41430861

Abstract:

Population geography (PopGeo), although a sub-discipline of human geography, should have been well developed in China in light of its national population size and unique demographic issues, regional socio-economic development, and biophysical differences. Yet it typically lags behind the development of its parent disciplines, especially demography and geography. Specifically, PopGeo in Chinese higher education is still at a low level in terms of the three major aspects of disciplinary development: academic majors for higher education, academic conferences, and journals. The research content of PopGeo in China has focused on the growth, composition, change, distribution, and carrying capacity of population at the meso- and macro-spatial scales. As the most populated country in the world, questions about how and why the population changes, where the population settles and migrates to, its maximum carrying capacity, and how to guide sound development of population matter to society and the economy, are always important topics in the PopGeo studies in China. In contrast, some new population phenomena such as human space-time behaviors (commuting, remittances, and friends’ interaction), popular in the scientific community abroad, are not fully investigated at the micro-level. Presently, PopGeo in China may face both challenges and opportunities because of the adjustment of fertility policies and implementation of national new urbanization plans at the national level. It is this occasion that calls for a state-of-the-art review of the development of PopGeo since the 1980s, the turning point of an increasing number of PopGeo studies in China. We aim to reveal the current status of PopGeo in China to the world, and shed light on its further study.

Key words: population geography, fertility policies adjustment, population aging, new urbanization, China