The Developing Economies, XXXIII-2 (June 1995)
URBANIZATION IN CHINA
REEITSU KOJIMA INTRODUCTION
process of urbanization followed its own peculiar pattern until the early 1980s due to the government’s strict regulation of intra-country migration. During the latter half of the 1950s, the government closed the labor market and placed strict controls on the movement of people from rural to urban areas. During the next two decades China’s citizens lost the freedom to choose and change their occupation and residence. These controls began to slacken from the early 1980s as the people’s commune system was phased out. In the mid1980s the labor market was virtually reconstituted, and though regulation of migration still exists, the actual pattern of population movement has increasingly begun to resemble that of other developing countries. This paper focuses on the following two topics: the structure of China’s urbanization, and changes over time in the level of urbanization. The former refers to the changes that take place in cities of various size. I. DEFINITION OF THE URBAN AREA As in most other countries, the deﬁnition of urban areas in China is fairly complex. It is therefore necessary for us to carefully examine the published population statistics to ﬁnd out the range of cities they represent. What is peculiar about the deﬁnition of China’s urban areas is that there are cities with urban status and those without it. The status of a city is vitally important for its residents because once the status of a city is recognized as urban, its residents are allowed to become holders of urban registration to whom the government is obligated to provide food, occupation, and accommodation. Since taking power in 1949, the Chinese government has deﬁned and redeﬁned the deﬁnition of “city” three times. The ﬁrst was in November 1955 when the State Council decided on the criteria for urban-rural zoning (see also ). According to the decision, cities and towns that...