Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ryan Pyle Blog: Overcrowding in Shanghai


The world maybe suffering from economic turmoil, but that hasn't stopped boatloads, trainloads and busloads of people from showing up in Shanghai, China looking for work and a better life. The situation has gotten so intense that the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission (SPFPC) is looking for ways to better distribute the population density from the crowded city center out in the suburbs.

It turns out that there are roughly 18.88 million people in Shanghai. I say roughly because a) people are coming and going all the time, and b) the Chinese government, both local and national, love to round off numerical values to include as many 8's as possible; as 8 is a lucky number in China.

With almost 19 million people scrabbling around bustling Shanghai, the SPFPC are looking at ways to avoid overcrowding. About 1/2 of all the residents here live in the massive 600-square kilometer downtown area, and the rest live in various suburbs around the city.

It's important to remember that this overcrowding is mainly due to mass migration of people from other provinces to Shanghai, as people chase their middle class ambitions. By SPFPC numbers it looks like Shanghai is growing by around 300,000 or 400,000 people a year. No small number for a city rushing to build and develop infrastructure after almost starting from scratch twenty years ago.

Solutions are difficult to find, if China starts telling people that its biggest cities are off limits; or starts restricting movements there would be a huge backlash. The only real solution would be to encourage second tier cities to develop faster and become better places to live, with better economic opportunities; and that may actually happen as Shanghai gets too expensive and factories and offices such for cheaper wages and rents.

The above image is a crowded neighborhood in an older part of Shanghai; where migrants often first land in their bid to find work and start a new path.

Ryan Pyle

No comments:

Post a Comment


This is Ryan Pyle. I appreciate you adding a comment to my blog and I hope that this space has offered you something useful and interesting. I look forward to staying in touch and I'm glad you took the time to comment.

Ryan Pyle