Impact of population changes on aquatic food consumption since economic reform in PRC

Type Conference Paper - Open Meeting of the Global Environmental Change Research Community
Title Impact of population changes on aquatic food consumption since economic reform in PRC
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2001
Country/State Rio de Janeiro
In contrast to the patterns of the demographic transition from the western countries, it was generally
believed that Chinese case has major differentials in the timing, scopes, and stages in spite of some
similarities and China has entered the stage of post-demographic transition with a stably low fertility
since 1970s (Leete, 1987). It is obvious that China has witnessed a stably declining fertility since
1970s while maintaining a lower mortality as well, which is one of the most rapid decline in fertility
among all the developing countries of the world, especially those with a large population size. For
instance, the crude birth rate has declined from 33.34 ‰ in 1970 to 15.23 ‰ in 1999 (State Statistical
Bureau, 2000), witnessing more than eighteen thousand point decrease within the past thirty years.
Accompanied with the declining fertility, China has also experienced a stable and rapid economic
growth since the end of the 1970s, which have s substantial impact on the increase of the purchasing
power for Chinese people. For instance, the annual disposable income per capita for urban residents is
5,854 Yuan while the annual net income for rural residents are 2,210 Yuan in 1999 (State Statistical
Bureau, 2000), indicating that there are 17.6 time and 16.6 time increase respectively in urban and
rural China compared with per capita incomes of 1978.1
In spite of the fact that there has been or will be a quite stably low fertility in Mainland China, its
population size has been souring up. Based on the 2000 census, there was 1.265 billion population in
Mainland China, showing 11.66% growth over the last census in 1990 (National Bureau of Statistical,
2001). Also, it is estimated that Chinese population will expand its size to the peak around 2040
though the total fertility rate will be below the replacement level (Yu, 1995; UN, 1998; Jiang, 1998;
It is obvious that the rapid population changes with a growing income level are exerting a very
important impact on the Chinese consumption patterns, shifting from the traditional consumption of
vegetables and grains to the higher consumption of oil, meat, poultry, and fish over the past two
decades (Zhao, Zeng, etc., 2001). The picture of struggling for existence before 1978 was almost
substituted by changing patterns of expenditure and diversification of the food consumption in
Mainland China. This changing consumption patterns of food is also involved in the aquatic food
consumption. The evidence reveals that per capital aquatic food consumption has gained a great
increase since 1978, the year that Chinese government started to carry out the economic reform policy
over the nation. From 1978 to 1999, the per capita consumption of aquatic food increased by 572% in
rural China, which is a good witness of the changing food consumption composition (National Bureau
of Statistics, 2000).

Related studies