Urbanization in China 2008-2018

The graph shows the percentage of the Chinese population living in urban areas until 2018. In 2018, about 59.8 percent of the total population lived in cities.

Degree of urbanization in China – additional information

Urbanization is generally defined as a process of people migrating from rural to urban areas, during which towns and cities are formed and increase in size. Even though urbanization is not exclusively a modern phenomenon, industrialization and modernization did accelerate its progress. As shown in the statistic at hand, the degree of urbanization of China, the world’s second-largest economy, rose from 39 percent in 2002 to around 51 percent in 2011. That year, the urban population surpassed the number of rural residents for the first time in the country’s history. According to the urbanization blueprint, issued in March 2013 by the Communist Party and State Council, China aims at reaching 70 percent urbanization by 2030.

The urbanization rate varies greatly in different parts of China. While urbanization is lesser advanced in western or central China, in most coastal regions in eastern China more than two-thirds of the population lives already in cities. Among the ten largest Chinese cities in 2018, seven were located in coastal regions in East and South China.

Brazil and Russia, two other BRIC countries, display a much higher degree of urbanization than China. On the other hand, in India, the country with the worlds’ second largest population, a mere 34.7 percent of the population lived in urban regions as of 2018. Similar to other parts of the world, the progress of urbanization in China is closely linked to modernization. From 2008 to 2018, the contribution of agriculture to the gross domestic product in China shrank from 10.73 percent to 7.2 percent. Even more evident was the decrease of workforce in agriculture.

Degree of urbanization in China from 2008 to 2018

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Release date

October 2019



Survey time period

2008 to 2018

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Statistics on "Population in China"

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