City-bound peasants on the increase
By JASPER BECKER in Beijing
CHINESE officials say at least 80 million peasants have moved into the cities, but demographers say the real figure is more than 100 million.
Previously officials put the number of migrant labourers settling in the cities as nearly 50 million. No one really knows the real number of peasants who have left their villages and are roaming the country in search of work. There may be as many as 200 million but not all are in the cities.
The new urban dwellers - known as the 'floating population' - have raised fears that impoverished peasants will swamp cities creating shanty towns.
At a conference on family planning, officials said the floating population was defeating efforts to enforce the one child policy.
Xinhua (the New China News Agency) said that the percentage of women of child bearing age was often much higher in the floating population. A survey in Shanghai in 1993 showed that migrant labourers were 13 times more likely to break family planning rules than permanent residents.