China Kicks Off Once-a-Decade Population Census

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Nov. 2 – China began the colossal task of taking its sixth nationwide census on Monday in a project that will last from November 1 to November 10 and which will refresh China’s demographic figures.

The national census, which is taken every 10 years, last put China’s population at 1.295 billion people. With China having undergone a period of rapid economic acceleration, as well as large waves of internal migration to urban areas, taking on the census this year will be no easy feat.

Approximately 6.5 million people have been employed to knock on doors and collect the personal information of both Chinese citizens and foreigners living across the country. The government is pouring approximately US$104 million into the endeavor, hoping to gain more information on where people are actually living, instead of relying on where they are registered, also known as the hukou system.

The census, scheduled to be released in April 2011, will also identify the current situation of migrant workers in urban areas, violations of the one-child policy, and other unknown demographic blips.

In addition to the scores of people that will have to be visited in a period of 10 days, census takers must also brave some resistance to population survey. Some Chinese citizens fear for their own privacy, and refuse to give up the requested information.

Migrant workers and parents who have violated the one-child policy are hesitant to provide information that may expose them to hefty fines and, as with the earlier census, some citizens will be purely avoiding census takers.

The census form has also been translated into five other languages to accommodate the growing expatriate communities, and multilingual census takers have been employed to cover expatriate areas in major cities.

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