Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 72 ›› Issue (6): 1001-1016.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201706005

• Urban Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial-temporal patterns of population aging on China's urban agglomerations

Lucang WANG1(), Rongwei WU2,3, Wei LI1   

  1. 1. College of Geography and Environment Science, Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou 730070, China
    2. Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CAS, Urumqi 830011, China
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2016-07-04 Revised:2017-01-06 Online:2017-06-25 Published:2017-06-25
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41261042


Aging and urbanization are two major population issues currently facing the world. Urban agglomeration is an advanced form of urbanization that encompasses the spatial organization of cities within a specific geographical area, and in which the process of aging differs from that in other regions. Based on county-specific data from population surveys in 2000 and 2010, we determined the spatial patterns and variations of aging populations in 20 urban agglomerations in China using geographical detector-based and coefficient of variation methods. We also examined the contributing factors of population aging variability. Results demonstrated that in 2000, older people accounted for 7.32% of the urban agglomeration demographic structure, with 12 of the 20 urban agglomerations defined as adult-type populations. In 2010, however, older people accounted for 9.00% of the urban agglomeration demographic structure and, except for those in the Pearl River Delta and Ningxia areas along the Yellow River, all the urban agglomerations entered the elderly population stage. Moreover, high-age and moderately high-age regions expanded towards inland urban agglomerations, with population aging increasing obviously and population type changing from adult to aging. In addition, significant regional differences in the incremental increases in the number of older people and growth rates of the aging populations existed in the urban agglomerations. Low-age and high-age regions had smaller increments and growth rates, whereas moderately low-age, mid-age, and moderately high-age regions had greater increments and growth rates, indicating a declining aging rate in the order of regional, national, and local urban agglomerations. Within each urban agglomeration, the distribution pattern of aging showed the coexistence of uplift and collapse. The distribution pattern of aging within national urban agglomerations changed from an increasing to collapsing structure, and population aging in central China reduced. Conversely, regional urban agglomerations changed from a homogeneous to an increasing structure, and population aging in the central region increased. Population aging of urban agglomerations was the result of internal and external factors, with changes in base period aging, population age structure, and population fluidity being the predominant factors. Universal uplift of the population age structure was a key factor affecting aging and population types in urban agglomerations. Furthermore, low-age population immigration into urban agglomerations had a "diluting effect" on population aging, and aggregation and diffusion effects caused by different development stages of urban agglomeration played important roles in aging and population migration.

Key words: urban agglomeration, population ageing, spatial-temporal patterns, influencing factors, geographical detector tool, China