Reverse! The permanent population of the four major first tier cities has returned to growth, with Guangzhou and Shenzhen reaching new highs together

The number of permanent residents in the four major first tier cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen has rebounded in 2023 after experiencing the first collective decline in history in 2022. Among them, Guangzhou and Shenzhen both reached new highs.

On the 28th, the Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Statistics released the Shenzhen 2023 National Economic and Social Development Statistics Bulletin. According to the bulletin, the permanent population of Shenzhen at the end of 2023 was 17.7901 million, ranking fifth in the country, an increase of 128300 people compared to the end of the previous year. The gap with fourth place Guangzhou has further narrowed to 1.0369 million people.

According to the 2022 Statistical Bulletin of Shenzhen, the city’s permanent resident population has decreased by 19800 people compared to the previous year. This is the first time since the establishment of Shenzhen that the permanent population has decreased. Since 2023, Shenzhen’s socio-economic recovery has grown, with a total regional GDP of 3460.64 billion yuan, an increase of 6.0% compared to the previous year, and the number of permanent residents has also stopped falling and rebounded.

Increment of permanent resident population in the top ten economic cities in 2023


Data source: Mapping of statistical bulletins in various regions/Qin Xin’an

Shenzhen’s performance also means that the number of permanent residents in China’s four major first tier cities is returning to the growth track.

According to data previously released by local statistical bureaus, the permanent population of Beijing as of the end of 2023 was 21.858 million, an increase of 15000 people compared to the end of the previous year; The permanent population of Shanghai is 24.8745 million, an increase of 115600 people from the end of last year; The permanent population of Guangzhou reached a record breaking 18.827 million, an increase of 92900 people from the end of last year.

In 2022, one year ago, the number of permanent residents in the four major first tier cities simultaneously experienced negative growth. Among them, Beijing decreased by 43000 people, Shanghai decreased by 135400 people, Guangzhou decreased by 76500 people, and Shenzhen decreased by 19800 people. This year, the national population also experienced its first negative growth since 1962.

According to the statistical bulletin, in 2023, the total economic output of the four first tier cities (15594.149 billion yuan) accounted for about 12.4% of the national total (126058.2 billion yuan), and the total resident population (83.3496 million people) accounted for about 5.9% of the national total (1409.67 million people). Among the 691 county-level and above cities in China, the four major first tier cities hold a crucial position. Against the backdrop of a population decline of 2.08 million at the end of last year, the permanent population of these four cities experienced a counter trend growth, indicating that China’s leading economic cities are still full of vitality and attractiveness.

Expanding our observation to the top ten cities in mainland China’s GDP in 2023, a reporter from First Financial News found that only Chongqing’s permanent resident population has decreased (-219100 people), while the other nine cities have all achieved growth. Among them, Hangzhou added 146000 people, ranking first in terms of increment. There are four cities, Hangzhou, Chengdu (with an increase of 135000 people), Shenzhen, and Shanghai, with an increase of over 100000 people. The permanent population growth of other top 10 GDP cities in 2023 is as follows: Suzhou increased by 47000 people, Wuhan increased by 35000 people, and Nanjing increased by 55900 people.

The strong population growth in Hangzhou is closely related to the local economic activity and the strong provincial strategy of Zhejiang Province. In recent years, Hangzhou’s Internet and other emerging industries have developed rapidly, creating a large number of jobs and driving the population inflow. In 2023, Hangzhou achieved a regional GDP of 2005.9 billion yuan, an increase of 5.6% compared to the previous year, becoming the eighth mainland city with a GDP of two trillion yuan. At the end of the year, the city’s permanent population reached 12.522 million. On April 1st recently, the Standing Committee of the Zhejiang Provincial Party Committee held a meeting to study the work in Hangzhou. The meeting proposed that “Hangzhou’s yesterday was brilliant, Hangzhou’s today is shining, and Hangzhou’s tomorrow should be even better.”.

A regional economic research expert analyzed to First Financial reporters that the decline in Chongqing’s permanent population is mainly due to two reasons: firstly, Chongqing has a large population base, with a total permanent population of 31.9143 million by the end of 2023, ranking first in the country. It is more difficult for Chongqing to maintain positive growth than other cities as the national population enters a downward trend. Secondly, the total rural population in Chongqing is large, and rural population is currently the main force of population outflow. Statistical data shows that by the end of 2023, the urban permanent population of Chongqing was 22.8745 million, and the rural permanent population was 9.0398 million. The proportion of rural permanent population to the city’s permanent population was 28.33%.

For Chongqing, the migration of rural population within the city does not bring about population growth. And other provincial capital cities siphon off the rural population of the province, which is a real increase for the provincial capital city. At the same time, the urbanization speed of Chongqing is unable to meet the huge outflow demand of rural population, which inevitably leads to some population flowing to other regions, such as the Pearl River Delta. In fact, after deducting about 106200 people who naturally decreased in population, the net outflow of population from Chongqing last year also reached 112900 people.

In order to curb the trend of declining permanent population, Chongqing has taken action. In mid month, the General Office of the Chongqing Municipal Government issued the “Action Plan for Employment and Entrepreneurship of Millions of College Graduates and Other Youth in Chongqing (2024-2027)”, proposing to strive for more than 300000 college graduates and other young people to stay in Chongqing for employment and entrepreneurship in 2024 (including more than 50000 people from outside the city); From 2025 to 2027, the average annual employment and entrepreneurship of young graduates from universities staying in Chongqing will exceed 400000 people (including an average of over 60000 people from outside Chongqing); Over the past four years, we have promoted 1.5 million college graduates and other young people to stay in Chongqing for employment and entrepreneurship, striving to make Chongqing the preferred city for college graduates and other young people to work and start businesses in the western region.