Shanghai and Beijing to be supersized by 2050
With Shanghai’s current municipal population hovering around 23.2 million people, and Beijing's slightly lower, you might think these cities have hit their population peaks. But no, far from it, according to researchers and government officials at the fifth Expo forum, themed "Economic Transformations and Urban-Rural Relations."
Shanghai and Beijing will each have a population of over 50 million by 2050, said the reports, “more than double the current level due to fast-paced urbanization and rapid economic growth,” reports Shanghai Daily.
To date China's one-child policy has kept these numbers in check. So much so that there have been concerns over shrinking workforces and aging populations.
Now however, migrants from rural areas are turning Shanghai and Beijing into the poster children for city swell.
"China's super-sized cities are the result of fast-growing economy and massive migration," Professor Li, chairman of Tsinghua University's School of Humanities & Social Sciences, told the forum.
But immigrants to these cities don't always find it easy. Yu Zhengsheng, Shanghai's Party secretary, pointed out at the forum that China's residence registry system (hukou) has limited migrants from integrating into Shanghai society, denying them many social services they would receive back home.
In the same forum, Li Daokui, a member of Monetary Policy Committee of the People's Bank of China, suggested that China reform the hukou system to give people who migrate to cities the same benefits as local residents. At the same time he said they should provide incentives for migrants to move to smaller Chinese cities, alleviating some of the burden from first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
For years, advocates from around China have called for similar measures. In light of the rural-urban migration data, the government is now testing reforms to the hukou system in Chongqing, that should give approximately 10 million rural people in the city the same benefits as urban residents by 2020.