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Shenzhen faces demographic pressure
By Wu Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-16 22:37

Shenzhen is looking for ways to tackle the problems caused by a soaring population.

A joint project between Peking University and the Shenzhen Population and Family Planning Experts' Commission, a think tank created specifically to deal with population explosion issues, will be launched soon.

The think tank is the first of its kind in Shenzhen. It will look at population and family planning strategy and policy for government officials.

"Without a proper solution to the population problem, the benefits from two decades of rapid development will be lost," said Vice-Mayor Liang Daoxing.

According to the latest survey, Shenzhen's population density tops large and medium cities in the Chinese mainland at 3,597 people per square kilometre. That density is growing 15.32 per cent per year.

In comparison, the population density in Beijing was 881 people per square kilometre, 2,902 in Shanghai and 975 in Guangzhou.

While admitting contributions to the city's prosperity by temporary residents, Yang Lixun, a member of the think tank, has argued that the population pressure has delayed the city's modernization drive by five years.

Yang pointed out that due to the city's limited natural resources, many social factors including security, environmental protection and transportation are threatened.

It is estimated that in 15 years, the city will run out of land while education and hospital sectors have been overloaded for years.

Unlike other cities, where population growth is a result of natural birth of permanent residents, Shenzhen's population growth has been driven by an inflow of floating residents.

According to the 2000-01 census by the Shenzhen Population and Family Planning Bureau, Shenzhen's temporary population grew 22.11 per cent to 6.77 million. They make up 83.45 per cent of total population, the largest portion in any city of the country.

The average age in the city is 25.37 years while only 15.21 per cent of people have received a vocational education or above.

Of the registered population, 44.98 per cent are females of childbearing age. That number compares to 30.36 per cent in Beijing, 29.78 in Tianjin, 29.47 in Shanghai and 23.81 in Guangzhou.

Another concern is that 53.05 per cent of the floating population are female and most are of child-bearing age, which has made it more difficult for the local government to control and improve population.

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