One in three Beijingers a migrant worker

By Shan Juan (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-05-06 07:39
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BEIJING - The capital's population rose to 19.6 million in 2010, and a huge influx of migrants contributed to the growth, the city's statistics bureau said on Thursday.

Migrants who have come from other provinces to the city are the main contributors to Beijing's population growth. But the municipal government is seemingly reluctant to encourage a further influx of migrants.

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"After 10 years of high-speed growth, Beijing's economy should slow down and improve. In the meantime, the population should be controlled accordingly," said Gu Yanzhou, deputy director of the Beijing municipal bureau of statistics.

"We'll surely strengthen the local population management but the exact policies and measures remain to be decided," Gu added.

However, previous policies, such as restrictions on house and car buying by migrants, have been criticized as discriminatory.

The number of Beijing residents, including those without a hukou, or household registration, is now 19.6 million, an increase of 44.5 percent in a decade, far more than the average increase of 5.84 percent recorded for the country during the same period, the bureau said in a statement.

One in three Beijingers a migrant worker

According to the sixth national census conducted last year, China had a mainland population of 1.34 billion, 73.9 million more than 2000, and more than 260 million are on the move, living away from the place of their hukou.

The number of residents in the capital who come from other regions of China has doubled to 7.045 million, accounting for 35.9 percent of the city's total residents.

Gu said 10 years ago, one in five Beijing residents was a migrant. Today it is one in three.

Most of the migrants in Beijing now work in the service industry instead of manufacturing and construction, as they did 10 years ago, Gu added.

The newcomers who are largely between the ages of 15 and 60, have helped to alleviate Beijing's aging problem. According to the census data, Beijing has 1.71 million people aged 65 or above, accounting for 8.7 percent of the total population. That ratio is up 0.3 percentage points from 10 years ago. In contrast, the ratio nationwide has risen 1.91 percentage points over the same period of time.

Meanwhile, the education status among capital residents is the best nationwide. There are nearly 31,500 college graduates for every 100,000 people, far more than the ratio of 8,930 out of 100,000 nationwide.

"Beijing's economic and social development depends on new and innovative talent from other regions, as well as a steady supply of labor," Gu said.

But he also conceded that the huge population growth is causing problems.

Beijing has some of China's worst traffic. Five million automobiles are on its roads and its hospitals are frequently over crowded.

"Beijing's population should match its economic development," Gu said.

The Beijing municipal government originally planned to keep the city's population under 18 million until at least 2020. However, the explosive growth and increasing numbers of migrants have caused the city to meet that figure 10 years early.

Xinhua contributed to this story.