Turning point: labor shortage and rise of urban population in China

China could be at a turning point of population, with the population of working age declined slightly.

The share of China’s population of working age declined slightly in 2011, for the first time since 2002, while the most populous country in the world is aging rapidly, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Last year, 74.4% of Chinese aged 15 to 64 years, 0.1 percentage points less than in 2010, according to figures released Wednesday by the NBS.

“This is a small fluctuation, but we must pay attention to the issue of labor” which is closely related, said the NBS.

To pay up

The arrival of shortage on the labor market in the coming years in China would cause a decrease of the workforce in mid-decade, according to the demographers, it will help push up wages.

The number of people aged over 65 years last year rose by 0.25 percentage points year on year to 9.1%. Taking into account more than 60 years, the increase is 0.47 percentage point to 13.7%.

The NBS also reported that the deficit of female births in Chinese population has absorbed a little bit with 117.78 boys born for every 100 girls, or 0.16 percentage point less than in 2010.

Too many boys

The excess of boys is related to the preference of Chinese families for male heirs, and is exacerbated by the birth control.

The government is trying to prevent selective abortions by prohibiting ultrasound test in the early months of pregnancy, many couples find ways bypassing this.

The equilibrium level of natural population is about 105 male births per 100 women, boys are more vulnerable than girls and more mortality rate in infancy.

The growing number of migrants

Finally, the “floating population” of migrants who left their home areas to work in cities or coastal areas in 2011 amounted to 230 million people, up 8.3 million over one year.

The NBS announced on Tuesday that for the first time, the urban population (690.8 million people) had exceeded last year’s rural population (656.6 million).

The urban population includes only “permanent residents” of cities, and therefore excludes migrants who have a residence permit (hukou) areas, said the NBS.