Shanghai: Torrid Population Growth

The population of the provincial level municipality of Shanghai exceeded 22 million at the end of 2010, according to the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission. The population of 22.21 million exceeds the 2000 population of 16.41 million by 35 percent. This growth of nearly 6 million is more people than live in all but three Western European urban areas (Paris, London and Essen-Dusseldorf).

Virtually all of the population gain was among migrant (non-permanent) residents who lack official Shanghai registration (Shanghai Hukou status). The migrant population rose from 5.9 million to 8.1 million, an increase of 153 percent (Estimates place the number of non-permanent urban residents of China as high as 200 million). There were 14.1 million permanent residents (with Shanghai Hukou status), a seven percent increase from the 2000 figure of 13.8 million (Figure).

Non-permanent residents, who must have lived in Shanghai for six months to be counted, now account for 36.4 percent of the provincial level municipality's population, nearly double the 19.4 share in 2000.

Results are expected soon from the China national census, which began in November of 2010. Ding Jinhong, director of East China Normal University's School of Social Development has suggested that the census may report a population as much as 23 million, with a non-permanent resident population of 9 million.

It is estimated that the Shanghai urban area, which is wholly contained within the provincial level municipality, will have a mid-year 2011 population of 18.7 million, with a land area of 1,125 square miles (2,900 square kilometers). The Shanghai urban area, the 10th largest in the world, has a population density of 16,500 per square mile or 6,400 per square kilometer.

This urban density is more than double that of Western European urban areas with more than 500,000, however it is less than one-fourth that of the Mumbai urban area. As in Mumbai, there has been substantial population dispersion from the core to suburban areas, with only 14 percent of growth in the urban core (generally inside the inner-ring expressway) between 1982 and 2000.

The population density of the provincial municipality, which is analogous to a metropolitan area and includes considerable rural land, is much lower, at 9,100 per square mile (3,500 per square kilometer).