Tropical Geography ›› 2021, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (5): 928-942.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003379

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Spatial-Temporal Evolution Characteristics and Its Driving Mechanism of Urban-Rural Inversion of Population Aging in China

Wei Zhang(), Chunrong Pu, Fang Li, Zilin Fan   

  1. School of Geographical Sciences, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
  • Received:2020-07-15 Revised:2021-04-13 Online:2021-09-22 Published:2021-09-22


The world's population is growing older, with people over the age of 65 being the fastest-growing age group. In China, population aging significantly affects the building of a moderately prosperous society, while the emergence of the urban-rural inversion phenomenon for population aging increases the difficulty of this challenge. To provide further scientific evidence for the optimal allocation of elderly care resources and the welfare improvement of the elderly population, this study analyzed the spatiotemporal evolution characteristics and driving mechanism of the urban-rural inversion phenomenon for population aging in China at the provincial scale. To this end, it used GIS spatial clustering and multiple stepwise regression models. The results indicated that first, along with the continuous increase in population aging, the urban-rural inversion phenomenon for population aging is becoming evident in China. Before 2000, the aging rate of the urban population was higher than that of the rural population in China. In 2018, the percentages of people over the age of 65 in the total population for urban and rural areas were 10.65% and 13.84%, respectively. Hence, the urban-rural inversion phenomenon for population aging is indeed very obvious. Second, generally speaking, the spatial concentration intensity of the urban-rural inversion phenomenon for population aging presented a "low-high-low" inverted U-shaped variation tendency from 1995 to 2018. The urban-rural inversion phenomenon first appeared in the eastern coastal area. It then gradually expanded to the central and western regions, and eventually evolved into a universal phenomenon nationwide. Additionally, this phenomenon has an obvious characteristic of regional differentiation. The level of urban-rural inversion is high in the eastern coastal area, while it is relatively low in the northeast region. The eastern coastal area is the most economically developed region in China, and it can provide more jobs with higher income to laborers than other regions. Consequently, a large number of young laborers from other regions flocked to cities in the eastern coastal areas to find a better job, which greatly reduced the aging rates of these cities and triggered the urban-rural inversion phenomenon for population aging. In contrast, the economic development of Northeast China has been relatively slow since 2000. It is difficult for the cities of Northeast China to attract immigrants and retain the local young population, which leads to a continuous increase in the aging rate of its urban population. Third, there is a complex, multi-dimensional, and non-linear interaction mechanism behind the urban-rural inversion phenomenon for population aging in China. Population and economic factors are the major driving factors of this phenomenon. The imbalance of social and economic development has formed a geographical difference between regions as well as between urban and rural areas, triggered mass migration movements, affected the demographic structure of urban and rural areas, and led to the urban-rural inversion phenomenon for population aging in China. For western provinces with underdeveloped economies, severe population outflows, and higher levels of rural aging, the phenomenon of "old and poor" in rural areas has become a serious challenge for the successful implementation of rural revitalization and targeted poverty reduction strategies. Further, it has become the key step for building a society that is moderately well-off, with regard to all aspects, in China.

Key words: population aging, urban-rural inversion, spatial pattern, temporal evolution, driving mechanism

CLC Number: 

  • K901.3