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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION SCOPE OF THE REPORT This report is a summary of fertility, nuptiality, and mortality in the People's Republic of China from the early 1950s to 1982. It is based largely on the single- year age distributions tabulated in the censuses of less, 1964, and 1982 (with some adjustment) and the detailed history of fertility and nuptiality collected in the large-scale 1982 survey of retrospective experience among 311,000 women aged 1S-67. The survey was conducted by the State Family Planning Commission. Much of the data presented here are taken from a special issue of the Chinese journal Population and Economics, published in 1983, which was devoted to detailed information about the fertility survey and its results. Some of the important features of the demography of China summarized in this report--such as the sequence of total fertility rates for each year since 1950--are simply reproduced from Chinese sources (in particular the special issue of Population and Economics). Other features, such as birth rates, completeness of official data on annual births and deaths, marital fertility rates by age and by duration of marriage, and intercensal life tables, were calculated for this report. The methods of calculation range from simple cumulation of fertility rates to newly invented methods of life-table construction from census data. The report is intended as a summary of population trends and not as an account of their causes. It presents some treatment of what demographers call the proximate determinants of fertility, including an analysis of the influence of changes in nuptiality on fertility and inferences from the age structure of 8
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9 marital fertility about the probable absence or prevalence of contraceptive practice. It also comments on the most conspicuous features in the evolution of the population: the deficit of births and the excess of deaths in 1958-61 and the steep decline in fertility after 1970. However, the aim of the report remains demographic, to describe and analyze the population patterns in China. BACKGROUND With a population of just over 1 billion, China is the most populous country in the world. Its population is one-third larger than the second most populous country, India (with about 725 million in 1984). In area, however, China ranks only third; with 3.69 million square miles, it has almost exactly the same area as the United States, with 3.62 million square miles. China is geographically similar to the United States in other ways, too: its territory extends 3,100 miles from east to west, although its north-south distance of 3,500 miles is much greater than that of the United States. China also has extensive mountainous terrain and arid and semi-arid areas. In addition, the population of China, like that of the United States, is concentrated in the eastern part of the country (see map). Located in East Asia, China has very long boundaries (17,445 miles), which include long borders with the Soviet Union and the Mongolian People's Republic to the north and northwest, borders with India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan for the most part to the west, and with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the south. A cross- section of the country would show a land mass lying at low altitudes in the east, rising to plateaus, and on to the mountains in the west, including the world's tallest, Mt. Everest at 28,911 feet. China's main lowlands, which include the Manchurian Plain, the North China Plain, the Middle and Lower Yangtse River, and the Southeastern Hills, cover about 386,000 square miles (Kaplan et al., 1980). These plains in the eastern and southeastern parts of the country contain large parts of the Chinese population. Through these plains flow some of China's major rivers, including Asia's longest, the 4,000-mile Yangtse, in central China and the 3,000-mile Yellow River in the north. Despite a substantial expansion of China's urban population during the early twentieth century, the
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10 ~OP'~uATtON DISTRi8'~tS~ Source: Hook (1982:40). 'a;. ~~ ,,. I, Or w ;'< )N " PI country is still primarily rural; some four-fifths of the Chinese population reside in rural areas. The largest cities are Shanghai, on the southeastern coast, and Beijing, the capital, with 6.3 and 5.5 million inhabi- tants, respectively. Including the rural populations of the administrative districts, Shanghai has almost 12 million people and Beijing a little more than 9 million. The largest province is Sichuan, in the south, with more than 100 million people; thus, like Uttar Pradesh in India, if Sichuan Province were an independent nation, it would rank among the world's 10 most populous countries. Overall, China is divided into 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, and 3 municipalities. Some 94 percent of the population of China consists of ethnic Chinese, known as Han (Kaplan et al., 1980). However, China is not unified linguistically: within the Chinese language, many mutually incomprehensible dialects
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. 11 are spoken, although the written Chinese language is uniform and can be understood by all. There are also a number of non-Chinese languages. The official spoken language of the People's Republic of China is "putonghua, n meaning "standard speech, n which is based on the northern Chinese dialect and is sometimes referred to in the West as Mandarin. China's 54 national minorities--60 million people-- live scattered across the half of China's land mass that they occupy. Speaking a variety of languages, they are encouraged by the authorities to maintain if not strengthen their cultural and linguistic identities.