Urban and rural population of China 2008-2018

In 2018, about 831 million people lived in urban regions in China and 564 million in rural. That year, the country reached a total population of approximately 1.39 billion people. As of 2018, China was the most populous country in the world.

Urbanization in China

Urbanization refers to the process by which people move from rural to urban areas and how a society adapts to the population shift. It is usually seen as a driving force in economic growth, accompanied by industrialization, modernization and the spread of education. Urbanization levels tend to be higher in industrial countries, whereas the degree of urbanization in developing countries remains relatively low. According to World Bank, a mere 19.6 percent of the Chinese population had been living in urban areas in 1980. Since then, China’s urban population has skyrocketed. By 2018, nearly 60 percent of the Chinese population lived in urban areas.

Regional urbanization rates

In the last decades, urbanization has progressed greatly in every region of China. Even in the more remote Chinese provinces, the urbanization rate reached nearly 50 percent in recent years or went beyond. However, the most urbanized areas are still to be found in the coastal eastern and southern regions of China. The population of Shanghai, the largest city in China and the world’s seventh largest city is projected to reach 30 million people by 2025. China’s urban areas are characterized by a developing middle class. Per capita disposable income of Chinese urban households has more than doubled between 2008 and 2018. The emerging middle class is expected to become a significant driver for the continuing growth of the Chinese economy.

Urban and rural population of China from 2008 to 2018

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Release date

October 2019



Survey time period

2008 to 2018

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