Abandon fantasy, reform must be determined

Editor’s note: This article is from the WeChat public account “Urban Evolution” (ID: urban_evolution), author: Uncle Cheng.

As a national condition and power survey once every ten years, the seventh national census has attracted much attention.

Since the release of the data, there have been constant discussions and heated discussions on topics such as aging, declining birthrate, and fertility. These new changes in the number, structure, quality, and distribution of the population have a profound impact on the future direction of China’s economy and society.

Why does the population growth of Guangdong province exceed that of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai combined? Where should the problem of labor shortage in large cities in developed regions be solved? Will China in the future become big cities in charge of economic development, and small cities and rural areas in charge of having children?

On May 24th, Lu Ming, Distinguished Professor of Shanghai Jiaotong University and Executive Dean of China Development Research Institute, was a guest of Antai Wenzheng (45) and the sixth “Mobile China” series of forums, from the perspective of population change and mobility Interpretation of population data, analysis of population problems, and suggestions for reforms.

In his view, China should abandon illusions today, and don’t think that the current population flow trend has reversed in any sense, and reform must be determined.

The following is a transcript of the text, after my review, the urban evolution theory has been authorized to publish, slightly deleted:

The number of words in this book: 7131 words Reading time: 15 minutes

Distinguished Professor of Shanghai Jiaotong University

Lu Ming, Executive Dean of China Development Research Institute


Two unexpected data of “Seven Pu”

After the census data came out, a few pieces of information were quite surprising.

First, everyone has never guessed that the urbanization rate of the permanent population has reached 63.9%. Everyone knows that there was a statistical bulletin on social and economic development every year, and there was an annual estimate. As of this data report, the urbanization rate we announced in 2019 and 2020 was around 60%, and the census data was higher than the previous estimate. The data is about 3-4% higher, which is a very big improvement.

Of course, we can interpret it as the need for urbanization brought about by economic development, and please don’t forget that so far, it shouldThere is still a lot of room for progress in system reform, especially in the reform of the household registration system in super-large and super-large cities. We basically have no particular substantive progress.

Nevertheless, the urbanization rate has reached such a level, which strongly responded to a view in the academic circles and policy discussions in the past two years that China’s urbanization rate will be capped, and if China’s urbanization rate is too fast When it reaches a certain level, it will cause all kinds of turbulence. Some people even say that the urbanization drive has faded, and the era of migrant workers returning to their hometowns is coming. After the release of the Qipu data, relevant discussions can draw a stop.

Another more surprising data related to the urbanization rate is population mobility. There is a statistics on the separation of households in the Seventh Census Data Bulletin, which means that the place of residence is different from the place where the household registration is registered, but part of it is the movement within the city or within the municipal area.

For example, if you live in Pudong or Xuhui, this does not constitute a population movement. The real population movement should at least cross county-level units. What is the scale of our current floating population? There are 376 million people, 120 million of which are inter-provincial migrants. Compared with 2010, the migrant population has grown by 70%.

This is not the most surprising. Compared with the original published annual data, there is an additional 100 million in the floating population statistics. This is very scary. There are 1.4 billion people in China. Originally, we basically believed that China’s floating population was between 270 and 280 million. After this data came out, we were shocked. It was 100 million more than the previous annual estimate.

Of course, there are also various voices who think that the scale of population mobility should be gradually reduced, and even many people think that our future population mobility may be based on intra-provincial mobility. The data on population movement this time show that intra-provincial mobility is the mainstream, but inter-provincial still accounts for 1/3.

I want to remind everyone that this is in the case of mega and mega cities still controlling their populations. After the impact of the economic crisis ten years ago, the economic growth rate of China’s coastal areas has slowed down. Under the impact of the new crown epidemic (data obtained), if it were not due to the factors just mentioned, you can use your imagination to see what this data would look like.


What does it mean that the total population of Guangfo is greater than that of Shanghai

I just talked about the national situation, and then look at the provincial-level data comparison. I especially want to compare the situation of Shanghai and Guangdong. The data of Shanghai and Guangdong are more representative of the comparison between the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta.

Shanghai has a permanent population of 24.87 million, an increase of 1.85 million compared to ten years ago. The population of Guangdong is now 126 million, and it has increased by 21.71 million in ten years. If you just report this data to everyone, you might think this kind of comparison is The problem is that Shanghai is a city and Guangdong is a province.

The comparison I’m going to talk about next is actually very meaningful, because the population growth in Guangdong is mainly concentrated around Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and the population in eastern Guangdong has a negative growth, so let’s talk about the comparison between Guangdong and Shanghai. Metropolitan area.

Let me ask you two small questions first. We call Shanghai Shanghai. Do you think Shanghai is “a city”? In other words, are Guangzhou and Foshan two cities? My question is a couple. This question is related to China’s understanding of cities.

We know that in China, cities are actually the concept of administrative jurisdictions. For example, there are municipalities, prefecture-level cities, and county-level cities. I think many friends who study cities and those who care about urban issues in China don’t know about the concept of region. In fact, the definition of “city” in China is different from the definition of other countries and regions in the world.

In developed countries, there are two main definitions of “city”: the first definition in the sense of an economic autonomous region. According to this definition, I want to tell you that the “cities” in Europe, America and Japan are actually close to counties in our country, and even some of the larger towns can have a population of hundreds of thousands or even millions. “They are all big cities abroad.

The definition of a city in another developed country is the concept of a metropolitan area, which refers to a central city as the core, closely connected with the surrounding development zone, and is connected in an economic sense.

With this concept, let’s look at the picture on the left. This is our recent collaboration with the Asian Development Bank to see the development of Chinese cities with night lights. Shanghai may be difficult to call a city within its own jurisdiction. Suburbs to the south of Shanghai, such as places like Fengxian and Jinshan, may not form a contiguous development trend with the central city of Shanghai, even though they belong to the administrative jurisdiction. Shanghai.

At the same time, we found that Shanghai and Jiangsu should be closely linked, due to the administrative boundaryThe concept of jurisdiction, this black border, has not yet formed a state of urban development with Suzhou, especially Kunshan and Taicang in the suburbs of Suzhou.

But if you look at the picture on the right, not only Guangzhou and Foshan, but also Shenzhen and Dongguan, even Guangzhou and Shenzhen together, can be said to have formed a state of continuous development.

Of course, the internationally accepted concept of metropolitan area means that more than 15% of people in the outer area commute to the central city every day. So strictly speaking, I use the definition of lighting to Bigger than the “metropolitan area” we are talking about.

Because you can easily imagine, how could 15% of the people in Shenzhen go to Guangzhou for employment? This is definitely not achieved, but even so, at least the physical form has basically developed in a continuous manner. Around Shanghai, let alone 15% of the commuter population, they are physically disconnected.

With this concept, let’s take a look at the demographics, and you may find it interesting.

Guangzhou has a population of 18.68 million, an increase of several million over a few years ago. Foshan has 9.5 million people. If you look at these two figures alone, they are much less than Shanghai. But everyone knows that Guangzhou and Foshan are geographically located. What is the relationship? The relationship between Shanghai Pudong and Puxi.

The Pearl River between Guangzhou and Foshan is not as wide as the Huangpu River. The two cities are now closely linked and developed. The integration of urban planning and the construction of urban infrastructure are closely advancing. The populations of Guangzhou and Foshan are combined to achieve 28.18 million, more than the population of Shanghai.

Furthermore, when Guangzhou and Foshan were formulating the 2035 plan before, the combined goal of the two cities was to reach 28.5 million. The Qipu data shows that they have a high probability of achieving their development goals for 2035 ahead of schedule.

From the perspective of geographical area, Guangzhou has a large area. Some people will say that if you add up the area of ​​Guangzhou and Foshan than Shanghai, it is normal that there are more people than Shanghai.

Let’s look at Shenzhen next. Shenzhen’s population has reached 17.56 million, an increase of 7.2021 million in ten years. The next door Dongguan has become another tens of millions of people in the Pearl River Delta region, with 10.4666 million people, an increase of 2.2464 million in 10 years. The combined population of these two cities also exceeds 28 million.

This is interesting. In terms of area under jurisdiction, the area of ​​Guangzhou plus Shenzhen is only 2/3 of that of Shanghai.The Pearl River between Foshan is narrower than the Huangpu River, while Shenzhen and Dongguan are connected together without natural barriers.

But it has a population of 28 million in the case of only 2/3 of the area of ​​Shanghai, so in what sense do we view the so-called “urban population” in China? When we are making city plans, how do we scientifically plan the population of the city? I think this is a question worth considering. This is the first part of the information I will share with you.


What else in Shanghai besides “unwilling to give birth”

In the second part of the information, look at the age structure. Here I will take out Shanghai for comparison.

Shanghai is a first-tier city that controls population control together with Beijing. In fact, we have always known that China wants to control the population of megacities. The previous data shows that Guangzhou and Shenzhen are megacities and the population is not strictly controlled. We Look at what happened in Shanghai and Beijing.

The population over 60 years old in Shanghai accounts for 23.38%. What’s interesting is that the working-age population in Shanghai accounts for about 67%, while the national figure is 63.35%. What does that mean?

Shanghai’s aging is mainly due to the aging of the registered population. At the same time, Shanghai is a place of population inflow, which makes our working-age population increase. In fact, our aging does not exceed the national level. On the contrary, we are the working-age population. The ratio is more than that of the whole country, and the foreign population supplements Shanghai’s labor force.

Usually we have a saying that in fact, more than half of the working-age population in Shanghai are migrants. The migrant population I am talking about here refers to working in Shanghai but without Shanghai household registration. If you work in Shanghai and obtain Shanghai household registration The migrant population is called Shanghainese. (Beijing is in the second row of this table, the same as the situation in Shanghai)

At the same time, please take a look at the third data. The population of 0-14 years old in Shanghai accounts for 9.8%, and the national average is 18%. Shanghai is the only provincial unit in the country that has less than 10%. How do you understand this data? ? The first understanding is brought about by declining birthrates. Women and families in Shanghai are unwilling to have children. The total fertility rate in Shanghai has dropped to 0.7, which is one of the least willing to have children in the country.

I wonder if you have thought of another interpretation? The proportion of 0~14 years old is 9.8% and the proportion of 15~59 years old is 67%.What is the difference between? left behind children. Parents of the working-age population enter the megacities and become a labor supply. If these parents bring their children to school, will this increase the population of 0-14 years old? This must be a problem of separation between young parents and children in the family, but it is actually a problem of left-behind children.


Regional development is moving from “agglomeration to balance”

The next issue is the size of the family. According to the census data, the average household population in China is 2.6 people. There are many reasons, such as the reluctance of young people to live with their parents. In fact, the size of households continues to shrink, which is actually related to frequent population movements.

For example, if these young laborers who enter the city to work today, if they are in their hometown, they are likely to live with their elderly parents. They are counted as one family. Now young couples have moved out, and the elderly are in their hometowns. There are two households.

Such phenomena exist not only between the countryside and the city, but also between the city and the city. Like these college graduates, he may live in two families with his parents during the migration process. If there is no migration , It may be a family living together, especially when the house price is relatively high today, young people may live with their parents.

All the phenomena are added together, and they are talking about one thing, that is, the speed and quantity of China’s population flow far exceed our various estimates and expectations in advance. And what does this question remind us? Many related policies can no longer hesitate, we must be prepared.

Many people in big cities have an idea that labor mobility is short-term. The large-scale labor mobility we see today is because there are a large number of labor-intensive industries in the economic development stage. After the future industrial upgrade, they will When we go back, we don’t need them anymore.

The implication is that many people think that the reform of the household registration system is not so urgent. On the contrary, if the household registration system is reformed and some migrants stay in the city, they will be unemployed if there is no demand for labor in the future. The above ideas have no theoretical basis and factual basis at all. With the improvement of the economic development level, the more upgrading of industries in cities, the more labor demand will be brought about in the two links of production and life.

On the one hand, high-skilled labor and industrial upgrading will bring demand for some auxiliary positions, such as environmental sanitation, security, and cleaning. In addition, the improvement of people’s living standards will bring about a large number of consumer service industry job demands in life, such as housekeeping staff, restaurant waiters, and so on.

Therefore, do not wish to think that after the industrial upgrade, the migrant population will decrease. This is completely inconsistent with the objective law of social and economic development. The data from the seventh census once again proves that the trend of population mobility will not slow down. It won’t be reversed.

Such a large-scale population flow, and from the perspective of the flow direction, you can see that a large number of people are concentrated in the coastal areas, especially the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, especially in large cities such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen, even if you look Within Guangdong, the population of northern and eastern Guangdong is experiencing negative growth. This will immediately bring about another worry. Will population movement bring about the problem of uneven regional development?

The focus of the first problem to be analyzed is, when we look at the balance of regional development, should we look at the total amount or per capita?

As you all know, since the second half of last year, the topic of the North-South gap suddenly became hot. In fact, the academic community has discussed it for a long time. I can’t help but write some articles to respond to this question. Today we talk about the North-South gap. The reason why we think this It is an important question because we pay attention to total amount. If we pay attention to per capita, you will see a completely different picture. In fact, in terms of per capita, at the beginning of reform and opening up, the per capita GDP in the north was about 1.5 times that of the south, and now it is roughly equal to the per capita GDP.

Combined with recent economic data and census data, it can be seen that the per capita GDP gap between China’s regions is shrinking, and China is embarking on a so-called “balance in agglomeration” path today.

I want to share with you one point. In our latest research, we have predicted the spatial distribution of China’s population in the future. The basis of the prediction is that the direction of population flow in China today is basically determined by two factors: one is the distance to the port, the more The coastal areas have become more and more places of influx of people; the second is near large cities.

After the 7th Census data came out, the previous judgment was verified again. We predict that by 2035, if our population can basically flow freely, the spatial distribution of China’s population can basically be seen to be concentrated in Coastal areas, while a large number of coastal areas are concentrated in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Yangtze River Delta, and Pearl River Delta. In the central and western regions, they are mainly concentrated in the surrounding metropolitan areas of national central cities and provincial capital cities.


The reform of the household registration system in super-large cities should be promoted

Based on the above analysis, what I mean is that China should abandon illusions today, and don’t think that the current population flow trend has reversed in any sense. I think the reform must be determined, and combining the census data should have the following meanings:

The first is to deepen the reform of the household registration system, and also to promote the super-large and mega-cities, adjust and improve the points-based settlement system, and promote the process of citizenization of these large populations flowing into places. At present, China is also proposing to explore and promote the development of Other urban agglomerations have taken the lead in realizing the accumulative mutual recognition of household registration period and intra-city integration.

In other words, if you accumulate in city A for 5 years and accumulate 3 years in city B in the same city group, when you settle in city B, the previous 5 years are counted, soFirst, at least within the urban agglomeration, the free flow of population can be gradually promoted.

At the same time, it is necessary to establish a linkage mechanism between public services and the permanent population, and promote the allocation of public resources according to the size of the permanent population. Speaking of the census, it will talk about the demographic dividend. In addition to education and delaying the retirement age, there is actually another room to further release the demographic dividend, that is, population migration.

Population mobility can greatly improve the efficiency of the allocation of a given labor resource. At the micro level, it is to increase income and employment opportunities. People are not stupid. They will not go to places with little money or high unemployment. They must go to money. Go where the unemployment rate is low. At the macro level, it is actually the more efficient use of labor resources and the further release of demographic dividends, and this is conducive to alleviating the problem of labor shortages in cities (especially large cities in developed areas).

For this reason, the decision-makers should make up their minds to focus on promoting the reform of the household registration system in mega- and mega-cities with a permanent population of more than 5 million during the “14th Five-Year Plan” period, so as to provide faster employment and accommodation for people with long-term stable employment and residence. The process of citizenization.

Second, what about the land? From the perspective of economic development trends, declining birthrate is inevitable. I am here to add that everyone will consider the cost of parenting when making fertility decisions. If you have more births today, don’t say you buy one more house, at least one more. A room, if you want to buy an extra room to live with your child in the future, how much does it cost in Shanghai? At least one or two million per room. Such a large cost, compared to giving him some parenting subsidies, free milk powder, and extended maternity leave, can be said to be not at the same level of discussion.

So in today’s big cities, I think that if we want to ease the total fertility rate in places like Shanghai, it is very important to drastically reduce the cost of living. In other words, we must look beyond the population problem and look at the population problem, and the fertility problem. Looking at the issue of fertility, in this sense, we have been calling for the supply of land and housing to be consistent with the direction of population flow.

The national level has accepted this kind of opinion, enhancing land management flexibility in land use, and providing development space for advantageous areas. In addition, it is necessary to explore the cross-regional trading mechanism of construction land indicators and supplementary arable land indicators nationwide.

In fact, some places have very tight construction land indicators and can be transferred in. In some places, construction land is idle and the indicators can not be used up and can be transferred out. In this way, it can conform to the direction of population flow, adapt to people’s needs for housing, and ease From the perspective of rising housing prices to alleviate the problem of declining fertility.

The third aspect is to strengthen investment in education for children of migrants, and implement 12-year compulsory education as soon as possible. Although our per capita years of education has increased by more than one year in the past ten years, the average number of years of education per capita in OECD developed countries is 13 to 14 years, which is equivalent to a little more than a high school graduation. Compared with them, we are now equivalent to A little more advanced than junior high school graduates.

To change this situation, popularize high school education. Regardless of ordinary high school or vocational high school, the focus is actually on the second generation of farmers. Because the children in our cities are actually 12 years of education, the focus of the future is on rural household registration. Children’s 12-year compulsory education.

The most important thing is the very large and super large cities with concentrated populations. Relatively speaking, megacities and megacities have a larger scale of influx of labor, but in terms of public services, especially children’s enrollment, they are relatively unfriendly to the migrant population.

The so-called education improvement for children with registered permanent residence in rural areas is actually to “open the city gates” in super-large and super-large cities. More children of the second generation of farmers are welcome to come into the city with their parents, as long as the parents are there. The actual number of years of residence in the city and the number of years of social security payment are in line with the process of citizenization, and the child should be educated in the city.

In this case, the education level can be improved at the national level, the demographic dividend can be extended, the supply of labor at the city level can be increased, and the degree of social harmony can be improved. From our second-generation perspective, the next generation of children with rural household registration can have access Better education, the opportunity to realize the stratification of life.

If everyone agrees with this point, on the other hand, for super large and super large cities, it is necessary to greatly make up for the shortcomings in education investment, especially high school education, because although our junior high school and elementary school education today are not so mobile The population is friendly, no matter what, if you meet the current admission standards, you can still send your children to school, but the high school education is basically not open. This state is especially for those migrant families whose children have good academic performance. Painful things.

If the children continue to stay in the big city, there is basically no opportunity to go to high school. If they go back to their hometown to go to school, we have many interviews to prove that these children have a significant decline in their academic performance when they return to their hometown, because the teaching materials are not connected, even these people Maybe he was born in Shanghai or Beijing, and couldn’t even understand the dialect when he returned to his hometown. As mentioned above, the fact that urban high school education is not open to children of the foreign population has put forward higher requirements for cities to increase education supplies.

The fourth aspect is about shrinking urban and rural reduction plans. Where there is an influx of people, there must be an outflow of people. I mentioned that we must abandon the illusion. The second illusion to be abandoned is that for the outflow of population, don’t imagine increasing investment, building and building houses, and selling houses for 1,000. One square meter, the improvement of public services, the construction of concert halls, stadiums, and light rails, the livability of the city has improved, and everyone will come back.

Please remind everyone that it is unrealistic to abandon the illusion, and it does not conform to the economic development law of the world and China today. If this illusion is not abandoned, the more you invest, the further outflow of the population, and finally the transformation into Local government debt, a lesson for the world around the world-Detroit, while the population is flowing out, increasing investment, debt growth, and finally going to breakProduce.

For China’s population outflow areas, where conditions are good, such as around big cities, what we need to do now is to take advantage of the development opportunities near big cities and the development of metropolitan areas to make collectively-run construction land into the market. On the one hand, this place promotes urbanization, and at the same time it can alleviate the housing shortage in the metropolitan area around the big city, and increase the corresponding housing supply by entering the market for collective operating construction land.

Because the population continues to shrink in more areas, there are requirements for reduction planning. The so-called reduction plan refers to some houses that have not been sold. In the previous section, you have to abandon your illusions. What needs to be demolished must be demolished. Some infrastructures are better to be demolished.

For example, in some population outflow areas, it can be seen that huge squares have been built, and no one dances square dances. After ten lanes are built, there are no cars, it is better to become eight lanes, six lanes or even four lanes. If the driveway is not demolished, it will have to be further invested in maintenance, which can save money if it is demolished.

At the same time, the dismantled idle infrastructure and construction land can be freed up, and the construction land index can be used for cross-regional transactions. Today, China’s cross-regional transactions of construction land are compensated and a financial income can be obtained. It is cost-effective for underdeveloped regions.

Further down, public services should be provided centrally. With the further outflow of population in some outflow areas, there may be fewer and fewer people in the village. What should be done? If every village provides a school and nursing home as long as there are people, the investment will be too great and the quality will not be too good. Therefore, in the future, public services should be appropriately concentrated in the central city to improve the quality and efficiency of public service provision.

Relatively speaking, the land reform in rural areas should be deepened. The pace of rural land reform in China today lags far behind the process of urbanization and population mobility. What China is trying today is the separation of ownership, contracting rights, and management rights. In the future, especially on the issue of homesteads, if I have decided not to return to my hometown and the house is empty there, will the housing and land use rights corresponding to the homestead be tradable and profitable? These issues are becoming bottleneck issues in today’s land reform.

(All figures in the text are from Lu Ming’s on-site speech)

Text finishing | Yu Ruijun