Urban Growth in China Will Test Social Welfare System, Report Says

A new report predicts that more than 100 million people will move from China’s countryside into cities and towns over the next decade, a wave of urbanization that could strain the nation’s social welfare system. According to the government’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, China’s total urban population will likely reach more than 800 million by 2020, compared with about 670 million in 2010, as an increasing number of rural residents seek higher incomes in China’s cities. The report, based on a survey of migrant populations in 106 cities, warns that China’s “overall urban capacity” must be strengthened to handle such a surge in population. Even after migrant workers move into cities and towns, they are typically still registered as rural residents, and thus receive little or no social security and must pay high fees to send their children to public schools. “The migrant population strongly desires to be absorbed into the areas where they live, but there is a stark conflict between supply and demand of urban public services,” the report warns.