Journal of Geographical Sciences

, Volume 26, Issue 8, pp 1133–1158 | Cite as

Population geography in China since the 1980s: Forging the links between population studies and human geography

  • Yu ZhuEmail author
  • Jinhong Ding
  • Guixin Wang
  • Jianfa Shen
  • Liyue Lin
  • Wenqian Ke


This paper reviews the progress of population geography in China since the 1980s. The review results suggest that contrary to the common perception of its invisibility and marginalized status in the field, tremendous progress has been made in population geography in China since the 1980s. Population geographers have made significant contribution to the understanding of a wide range of population issues from geographical perspectives, including migration, urbanization, population distribution, the relationships between population, environment and resources, aging, marriage patterns, and migrants’ crimes, although such contribution often did not appear in the geographical circle. Furthermore, population geographers have played an indispensable role in revitalizing population studies in China and forging its links to human geography, occupying an important position in this multi-disciplinary field. Population geographers’ contribution to the areas of migration and urbanization research has been particularly significant, reflected in their leading roles in these areas’ research. The paper demonstrates that as latecomers in the field after more than 20 years of isolation, population geographers in China have gone through a process of catching up and increasing engagement with developments in social sciences and increasing interaction with social scientists since the 1980s, and have benefited greatly from it; however, there is a tendency for population geography to be increasingly alienated from the main stream human geography, a phenomenon similar to but not exactly the same as Anglo-American geography in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The paper argues that population geography is only half way in the course to forge the links between population studies and human geography, and it needs to return to geographical sciences to strike a healthy balance between the field of population studies and that of human geography, and promote its further development in a multi-disciplinary field.


population geography 1980s population studies human geography links China 


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Copyright information

© Institute of Geographic Science and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR), Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yu Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Jinhong Ding
    • 4
  • Guixin Wang
    • 5
  • Jianfa Shen
    • 6
  • Liyue Lin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wenqian Ke
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of GeographyFujian Normal UniversityFuzhouChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Humid Subtropical Eco-geographical Process (Fujian Normal University)Ministry of EducationFuzhouChina
  3. 3.Asian Demographic Research InstituteShanghai UniversityShanghaiChina
  4. 4.Population Research InstituteEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina
  5. 5.Institute of Population ResearchFudan UniversityShanghaiChina
  6. 6.Department of Geography and Resource ManagementThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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