It was by far the most thorough and accurate census taken since and confirmed that China was a nation of more than 1 billion people, or about one-fifth of the world's population.
The census provided demographers with a set of data on China's age-sex structure, fertility and mortality rates, and population density and distribution. Information was also gathered on minority ethnic groups, urban population, and marital status.
For the first time since the People's Republic of China was founded, demographers had reliable information on the size and composition of the Chinese work force. The nation began preparing for the census in late Chinese census workers were sent to the United States and Japan to study modern census-taking techniques and automation.
Computers were installed in every provincial-level unit except Tibet and were connected to a central processing system in the Beijing headquarters of the State Statistical Bureau.
Pretests and small scale trial runs were conducted and checked for accuracy between and in twenty-four provincial-level units. Census stations were opened in rural production brigades and urban neighborhoods. Beginning on 1 July , each household sent a representative to a census station to be enumerated.
The census required about a month to complete and employed approximately 5 million census takers. The census collected data in nineteen demographic categories relating to individuals and households. The thirteen areas concerning individuals were name, relationship to head of household, sex, age, nationality, registration status, educational level, profession, occupation, status of nonworking persons, marital status, number of children born and still living, and number of births in The six items pertaining to households were type domestic or collective , serial number, number of persons, number of births in , number of deaths in , and number of registered persons absent for more than one year.
Information was gathered in a number of important areas for which previous data were either extremely inaccurate or simply nonexistent, including fertility, marital status, urban population, minority ethnic groups, sex composition, age distribution, and employment and unemployment. A fundamental anomaly in the statistics was noted by some Western analysts. They pointed out that although the birth and death rates recorded by the census and those recorded through the household registration system were different, the two systems arrived at similar population totals.
The discrepancies in the vital rates were the result of the underreporting of both births and deaths to the authorities under the registration system; families would not report some births because of the one-child policy and would not report some deaths so as to hold on to the rations of the deceased.
Nevertheless, the census was a watershed for both Chinese and world demographics. After an eighteen-year gap, population specialists were given a wealth of reliable, up-to-date figures on which to reconstruct past demographic patterns, measure current population conditions, and predict future population trends.
For example, Chinese and foreign demographers used the census age-sex structure as the base population for forecasting and making assumptions about future fertility trends. The data on age-specific fertility and mortality rates provided the necessary base-line information for making population projections. The census data also were useful for estimating future manpower potential, consumer needs , and utility , energy, and health-service requirements. The sudden abundance of demographic data helped population specialists immeasurably in their efforts to estimate world population.
Demographers who had been conducting research on global population without accurate data on the Chinese fifth of the world's population were particularly thankful for the breakthrough census. One-child policy Birth rate in China Initially, China's post leaders were ideologically disposed to view a large population as an asset. But the liabilities of a large, rapidly growing population soon became apparent. For one year, starting in August , vigorous support was given to the Ministry of Public Health's mass birth control efforts.
These efforts, however, had little impact on fertility. After the interval of the Great Leap Forward , Chinese leaders again saw rapid population growth as an obstacle to development, and their interest in birth control revived. In the early s, schemes somewhat more muted than during the first campaign, emphasized the virtues of late marriage. Birth control offices were set up in the central government and some provincial-level governments in The second campaign was particularly successful in the cities, where the birth rate was cut in half during the —66 period.
The upheaval of the Cultural Revolution brought the program to a halt, however. In and the party mobilized its resources for a nationwide birth control campaign administered by a group in the State Council. Committees to oversee birth control activities were established at all administrative levels and in various collective enterprises.
This extensive and seemingly effective network covered both the rural and the urban population. In urban areas public security headquarters included population control sections. In rural areas the country's " barefoot doctors " distributed information and contraceptives to people's commune members. By Mao Zedong was personally identified with the family planning movement, signifying a greater leadership commitment to controlled population growth than ever before.
Yet until several years after Mao's death in , the leadership was reluctant to put forth directly the rationale that population control was necessary for economic growth and improved living standards. Population growth targets were set for both administrative units and individual families. In the mids the maximum recommended family size was two children in cities and three or four in the country.
Since the government has advocated a one-child limit for both rural and urban areas and has generally set a maximum of two children in special circumstances. As of the policy for minority nationalities was two children per couple, three in special circumstances, and no limit for ethnic groups with very small populations. The overall goal of the one-child policy was to keep the total population within 1.
The one-child policy was a highly ambitious population control program. Like previous programs of the s and s, the one-child policy employed a combination of public education, social pressure, and in some cases coercion. The one-child policy was unique, however, in that it linked reproduction with economic cost or benefit. Under the one-child program, a sophisticated system rewarded those who observed the policy and penalized those who did not. Through this policy, the increasing population got temperate after the penalties were made.
Couples with only one child were given a "one-child certificate" entitling them to such benefits as cash bonuses, longer maternity leave , better child care , and preferential housing assignments. In return, they were required to pledge that they would not have more children.
In the countryside, there was great pressure to adhere to the one-child limit. In rural areas the day-to-day work of family planning was done by cadres at the team and brigade levels who were responsible for women's affairs and by health workers. The women's team leader made regular household visits to keep track of the status of each family under her jurisdiction and collected information on which women were using contraceptives , the methods used, and which had become pregnant.
She then reported to the brigade women's leader, who documented the information and took it to a monthly meeting of the commune birth-planning committee. According to reports, ceilings or quotas had to be adhered to; to satisfy these cutoffs, unmarried young people were persuaded to postpone marriage, couples without children were advised to "wait their turn," women with unauthorized pregnancies were pressured to have abortions, and those who already had children were urged to use contraception or undergo sterilization.
Couples with more than one child were exhorted to be sterilized. The one-child policy enjoyed much greater success in urban than in rural areas.
Even without state intervention, there were compelling reasons for urban couples to limit the family to a single child. Raising a child required a significant portion of family income, and in the cities a child did not become an economic asset until he or she entered the work force at age sixteen. Couples with only one child were given preferential treatment in housing allocation.
In addition, because city dwellers who were employed in state enterprises received pensions after retirement, the sex of their first child was less important to them than it was to those in rural areas.
Numerous reports surfaced of coercive measures used to achieve the desired results of the one-child policy. The alleged methods ranged from intense psychological pressure to the use of physical force, including some grisly accounts of forced abortions and infanticide. Chinese officials admitted that isolated, uncondoned abuses of the program occurred and that they condemned such acts, but they insisted that the family planning program was administered on a voluntary basis using persuasion and economic measures only.
International reaction to the allegations were mixed. Observers suggested that an accurate assessment of the one-child program would not be possible until all women who came of childbearing age in the early s passed their fertile years. As of the one-child program had achieved mixed results. In general, it was very successful in almost all urban areas but less successful in rural areas.
Rapid fertility reduction associated with the one-child policy has potentially negative results. For instance, in the future the elderly might not be able to rely on their children to care for them as they have in the past, leaving the state to assume the expense, which could be considerable. Based on United Nations and Chinese government statistics, it was estimated in that by the year the population 60 years and older the retirement age is 60 in urban areas would number million, or In , the number of people over 60 is expected to increase to million.
The overall population density of China conceals major regional variations, the western and northern part have a few million people, while eastern half has about 1. The vast majority of China's population lives near the east in major cities.
Coast and eastern China In the 11 provinces, special municipalities, and autonomous regions along the southeast coast, population density was Broadly speaking, the population was concentrated east of the mountains and south of the northern steppe. The most densely populated areas included the Yangtze River Valley of which the delta region was the most populous , Sichuan Basin , North China Plain , Pearl River Delta , and the industrial area around the city of Shenyang in the northeast.
Western areas Population is most sparse in the mountainous, desert, and grassland regions of the northwest and southwest. In Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, portions are completely uninhabited, and only a few sections have populations denser than ten people per km2. The eastern, coastal provinces are much more densely populated than the western interior because of the historical access to water.