In a series of research reports, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) propounds on China's dramatic urbanization drive.
In a report dated March 2014 "China’s urban dreams, and the regional reality", here the EIU highlights the following findings -
(a) China's urban population will increase by 268 million between 2010-2030, to a total of 949 million. This accounts for a fifth of global urban growth, in line with the size of China's total population. Indeed, it masks a decline in urban population growth rates, dropping from an average of 5.4% p.a. during 1981-2010 to an average of 1.7% for the 2010-30 period.
(b) While the impact of the One Child Policy is crucial, economic and changing cultural factors are likely to remain key determinants of China's population growth. An immediate lifting of all birth restrictions would increase the total population by only around 25m against the base forecasts by 2030. Indeed, the population is likely to decline after peaking in the mid- 2040s.
(c) Huge regional variations will be the reality. Eastern China, led by Guangdong, will see its urban population increase by 124.4m over 2010-30 while Central China will witness a rise of 71.2m. One-fifth of China’s prefecture-level cities will lag behind with an urbanisation rate below 50%, while another one-fifth will exceed the key threshold of 80%, on a par with cities in developed economies.
(d) A number of expanding cities like Hefei and Wuhan in Anhui province are likley to become important centres of industry and consumption. However, cities in north-eastern and western China are likely to face mounting challenges in public infrastructure, such as mass transport systems, utilities, as well as education and health services.
In an earlier report dated 9 July, 2012, the EIU focused on "Supersized cities: China’s 13 megalopolises". Its findings here with a snapshot of these megapolicies include -
(a) While natural population growth has virtually grinded to a halt in smaller cities, megacitis continued to see their population rise sharply in recent years owing to rural migration.
(b) Not all megalopolises will reach middle-class status by 2020. The proportion of the population earning more than Rmb30,000—EIU's benchmark for middle-class status—now averages above 40% in greater Beijing, greater Shanghai and Shenzhen. By 2020 the 50% threshold will be reached by most of the megacity clusters. But greater Zhengzhou, greater Shenyang and Chongqing are likely to fail to reach the 50% mark by 2020.
The full EIU report on megapolicies is here.