Urbanization in India and China: Interpreting the UN Projections

Sergei Scherbov, Vienna Institute of Demography

The United Nations provides the most comprehensive and widely used projections of urbanization at the national level, but does not identify the demographic conditions that would be necessary to produce these outcomes. Taking China and India as illustrations, we use a multi-state model to identify the trends in future rural-urban migration and changes in age structure that are implied by these projections. We find that the UN projection for China implies net rural-urban migration of just over 10 million per year for the next 20 years, followed by a substantial decline over the 2020s. It also implies a substantial aging of the rural population: the proportion age 65+ nearly triples over the period 2000-2030. We use these results and those pending for India to suggest general conditions under which UN urbanization projections are likely to imply plausible, or implausible, future migration or age structures.

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Presented in Poster Session 5