China becomes more urban in historic population shift

Chinese migrant workers
Image caption Migrant workers are flocking to China's more urban areas, according to a new survey

City dwellers in China now outnumber rural dwellers for the first time as more people seek better economic opportunities, official figures show.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said that there were now 690.8m people - 51.3% of China's total 1.3bn population - in urban areas.

The 21m who moved to cities in 2011 included a large number of migrant workers, according to the NBS.

In comparison, there are 656.6m people living in rural areas.

That city dwellers now outnumber the rural population comes as no surprise.

When China released the results of its census - conducted once every 10 years - in April 2011, figures showed a dramatic rural to urban shift.

It said that the proportion of the population living in the cities had risen by almost 14% in a decade - workers drawn to jobs in China's factories and coastal industrial zones.

The census for the first time counted migrant workers where they were living, rather than where they were registered

Chinese academics have called for new policies to tackle the population shift, like making better social welfare provision for migrant workers.

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