China's Depopulation Wave: Cities Fight for Families

The war for talent China's entry-level working age population peaked in the early 2010s and this cohort is now entering the family formation years. Cities that relied on urbanization for growth are now facing an existential threat: more attractive cities are pulling youth from father away, bypassing lower-tier cities with fewer public services and less job opportunities. As a result, some cities have already started easing real estate restrictions.

iFeng: 二三线城市宽松落户时代来临:拿什么抵挡大城市“人口虹吸”
Cities with public service advantages will attract a large number of registered households and promote the increase of permanent residents; but in third- and fourth-tier cities without public service advantages, the population may accelerate its loss, even in the eastern provinces.

After the Spring Festival, the settlement policies of some large and medium-sized cities have been relaxed.

...The 21st Century Business Herald reporter learned that from 2018 to now, the resident population and registered population in Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Zhengzhou and other places have increased a lot, but some second-tier cities in the northeast and west, as well as some third- and fourth-tier cities, have a slow growing resident population or even a negative growth rate.
The talent was focused on college graduates in the past couple of years. Now cities are targeting families with policies aimed at people age 45 and younger:
For example, on February 12, Xi’an’s “Notice on Further Relaxing the Conditions for Admission of Some Households in the City” stated that those with undergraduate degree or above are not subject to age restrictions; those with undergraduate degree (excluding) or below are aged at Under the age of 45 (including), you can move to Xi'an.
Dalian is targeting people who are at least 15 years away from retirement:
Dalian Municipality recently issued a number of regulations on the management of household registration in Dalian, which states that there are legally stable residences in towns in the new districts or countries that have obtained full-time secondary vocational schools (including technical colleges) or above, or have studied in the city and have obtained primary workers. Professional qualification certificates, those who are more than 15 years from the statutory retirement age, can settle in the towns of the new district.
Top-tier cities remain the favored destination:
Generally speaking, the higher the city level, the higher the level of public service, and the greater the siphon effect that attracts the population. For example, some municipalities, sub-provincial cities, and provincial capital cities are attracted to the population because of the combination of better education, culture, technology, and financial resources.

This may lead to the influx of people from lower-tier cities to higher-level cities. For example, the rural population will be concentrated in towns and villages, the township population will be concentrated in cities and counties, and the population of cities and counties will be concentrated in provincial capitals, and the population of provincial capitals will be concentrated in sub-provincial cities, planned cities, and municipalities directly under the central government. In many provinces, there may be a situation in which a provincial capital city siphons the net inflow of permanent residents in the province. This is obvious in Shaanxi, Shanxi, Qinghai and other places.

In this regard, Li Yanjun, a professor at South-Central University for Nationalities, believes that there will be differences in the selection of people in cities in the future. For example, the policies of first-tier cities will be stricter, and some second-tier cities will attract a large number of people, but more remote urban populations lacking development opportunities may The loss is serious, which will affect the development of the industry and the need to avoid hollowing out.

Yin Zhigang, executive director of the Beijing Institute of Demography, pointed out that the difference between some megacities and third- and fourth-tier cities is partly in the areas of social services such as social security and medical care. If these services are done well in third- and fourth-tier cities, the population does not have to go to a larger city.

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