Despite headlines about high real estate prices and skyrocketing living costs in China’s more developed cities, our research finds that advanced cities are still attracting the lion’s share of population inflows. In the 236 cities with data coverage, 77 cities attracted more than 92 million migrants, while the remaining 159 cities saw a net outflow of 94.9 million people. Importantly, the population inflow for just 15 cities accounted for 70.2 percent of total population inflows in 2014. Together, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Guangzhou, and Tianjin account for 42 percent of total population inflows. These migration patterns are expected to accelerate as growth continues to slow and China’s investment-led growth era comes to an end.
For MNCs, city-level population shifts have big implications both for workforce planning and market planning, and, for some, for supply chain planning as well.