China has kicked off its national census, sending out six million census takers to go door-to-door to document the demographic changes in the world's most populous country.
Chinese census officials on Monday [1 November 2010] began fanning out across the country to try to visit 400 million households over the next 10 days.
For the first time since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, China will count people based on where they actually live, rather than where they are registered under the household registration, or hukou, system.
Also, for the first time, the census will include foreigners living in China.The results will help measure the degree of China's urbanization, as well as previously uncounted children born in violation of the one-child policy.
The latter issue will be one of the more important ones, since there is an ongoing debate about what the actual level of fertility in China is, given a variety of assumptions about "illegal" births. At the same time, there is almost certainly a strong incentive for people to continue to hide the existence of these children from the government, despite government assurances of amnesty.