BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2017/05

China's National Bureau of Statistics reports that the country's population increased last year by 8 million to 1.383 billion. The population increase reflects easing of family size policy that has resulted in the birth of over a million more babies than in 2015. Even so, China's demographic structure remains distorted, with the size of pension-age cohorts growing rapidly. The Chinese pension age is still quite low, typically 55 years for women and 60 years for men while the current expected average Chinese life expectancy is 76 years. Raising the pension age has occasionally been mentioned, but no decisions have yet been announced. The newest estimates published by the Chinese government suggest that China's population will peak at 1.45 billion in 2030, and decline thereafter.

Urbanisation, a major driver of Chinese economic growth, remained strong last year. At the end of 2016, 57 % of the population lived in cities, up from 50 % in 2010. That share has been boosted by migration to cities and the expansion of cities. The share of urbanised Chinese in the general population is still considerably less than in advanced economies, however. For example, 93 % of the population in Japan lives in cities or towns, 75 % in Germany, 84 % in Finland and 82 % in the US.

The number of rural migrant workers continues to grow and the number was estimated at around 282 million last year. However, the number of people that have been residing over six months outside their household registration (hukou) area decreased by a couple million, indicating that a small number of migrant workers succeeded in changing their hukou status.