(Yicai Global) Dec. 24 -- China's floating population has dropped for three straight years, sinking to 244 million last year -- almost one-fifth of the country's total populace -- China's National Health Commission said in its 2018 Chinese Floating Population Development Report issued Dec. 22.
New patterns have emerged in the transient population since 2015, per the report. It has stopped its former continuous growth and begun to gradually decrease.
The number of those living away from their hometowns was 247 million in 2015 in an annual drop of 6 million, while their numbers dropped 1.7 million per year in 2016 and continued down by 820,000 last year, China News Service reported yesterday, citing official statistics.
China applies a household registration policy based on family relationships and geographic locations. The so-called floating population refers to those people who leave their place of domicile to work, study and travel.
The 1980s generation makes up 35.5 percent of the floating population, followed by the 1990s at 24 percent, per the commission's report. The post-2000 issue claims 19 percent while the 2010s account for 21 percent, it added.
One possible cause of this decline is that prosperity is rising in China's hinterlands, thus obviating the need for locals to suffer family separations to seek greener pastures.
The floating population department of the former National Health and Family Planning Commission worked with the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund to survey and analyze the healthcare needs of rural left-behind children whose parents went to work in cities, in the poverty-stricken districts in 12 provinces, regions and municipalities.
Over 90 percent of these latch-key kids were taken care of by grandparents whose average age was 59 years, and over 70 percent of these caretakers had received only primary education, or even lower, per the survey.
Left-behinds lack proper safety knowledge and skills and are more accident-prone. The incidence of overall child injuries in the surveyed rural regions was 10 percent, while that for left-behind children was almost 13 percent in these same areas.
This rate rose as the children became older within the school-age range.
Editor: Ben Armour