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Case Study: Shanghai
Shanghai is a coastal modern megacity in East China, with an
area of 6340.5 square kilometers and a population of about
24 million. Since China's reform in the late 1970s, Shanghai,
the country's largest and most modern city, has experienced
rapid urbanisation and expansion.
Following liberation from Japanese occupation, there was
mass in-migration as those previously displaced by civil wars
and the Japanese returned.
Those living in urban areas were entitled to welfare and
subsidies . This made urban areas very attractive and
in-migration accelerated (this then became unmanageable so
stricter controls were introduced and people were sent away).
During Mao's Cultural Revolution (1960s) the emphasis was on increased industrial activity and
population control measures. At the same time many of the city's youth and skilled workers were
forced to move out to rural outposts in an attempt to increase the output of the periphery,
resulting in under-urbanisation . After Chairman Mao's rule ended, Shanghai was free to grow
again as policies favoured foreign investment. The educated youth and their families were free to
return. The population growth rate increased to 3.8% between 1985 and 1993.
Shanghai has also become a magnet for illegal immigrants. The influx of `floating population' (as
they live there temporarily) caused hyper-urbanisation in the area, now making up a fifth of
Shanghai's population and posing one of the biggest threats to the city in terms of planning for
housing and other services.
Rural-urban migration has made dominant contributions to urban population growth as many of
these temporary migrant workers are farm workers made obsolete by modern farming practices
and factory workers, laid off from inefficient state-run factories. They include men and women
and couples with children. Men often get construction jobs while women work in cheap-labour
The addition of the floating
population caused population
density to double from 1970-2010.
It is estimated that there are
population in Shanghai.
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Living conditions have steadily improved in Shanghai. Since 1990, housing space per capita has
more than doubled . Improvements are also noticeable in the quality of the urban environment,
with the area of urban parks and woods multiplying almost sevenfold , covering over 35% of the
urbanised area of Shanghai. Despite these improvements, nearly half of households experience
overcrowding , and a further 16% suffer from severe overcrowding.…read more