NANJING - The population of China, the world's most populous country, is projected to reach 1.39 billion by the end of 2015, with those age 60 or over topping 200 million people, said Li Bin, head of the country's top population policy agency.
Li, director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, released these estimates Saturday during a speech at the annual conference of the China Population Association in Nanjing, capital city of east China's Jiangsu Province.
The urban population is projected to be over 700 million over the next five years, for the first time exceeding the rural population, according to Li.
She said the increase in the next five years would be based upon the nation's population momentum, which, according to her, would begin to decline after 2015.
Population momentum is the tendency of a highly fertile population that has been rapidly increasing in size to continue to do so for decades after the onset of even a substantial decline in fertility.
Chinese government statistics show China's population stood at 1.32 billion at the end of 2008, which was about 2.5 times the number in 1949 when the People's Republic of China was founded.
To put a hold on the fast growth, the Chinese government adopted a one-child policy in the late 1970s. The policy had helped China's total population increase less than 40 percent between 1978 and 2008, whereas it nearly doubled between 1949 and 1978.
However, during the next five years the development of China's population is expected to go through major transitional changes, Li said.
China's first boom in its aging population is expected in the next five years, with roughly an average of eight million people turning 60 each year, 3.2 million more than occurred between 2006 and 2010, she said.
In the coming five years, the ratio of the population aged 15 to 59 would peak and then slowly fall, whereas the population dependency ratio, a measure of the proportion of the population too young or too old to work, would rise for the first time after over 40 years of decreasing.
In general, China would still retain the advantage of a plentiful labor supply and a relatively low population dependency ratio, she said.