China conducts a national census every 10 years. The last survey found the population had increased from 1.29 billion to 1.37 billion.
The Middle Kingdom will launch its seventh national census on Nov 1, state-run news agency Xinhua has reported.
Counting so many people will be a logistical nightmare, especially with coronavirus lurking in the background.
Luckily, technology has leapt ahead since 2010, so as well as traditional counting and recording methods, citizens will also use cell phones and other digital tools “to declare personal and family information”, Xinhua said.
The census will provide key data for national policy making, information that is becoming critical as the ramifications of several not always successful historic policies are making themselves known.
One of these is the demographic time bomb of the strictly enforced nationwide one-child per family policy begun in 1979 to slow population growth, and scrapped in 2016, after which parents were allowed to have two children.
Ironically, last year the country’s birth rate hit its lowest level since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.
Also last year, more than 250 million or 18% of the population were over 60 years old, causing an imbalance in demographic ratios.
This year’s census may even show a decrease in the total size of the population for the first time in decades, setting the stage for India to overtake China as the world’s most populous country.
India was due to begin its own census earlier this year, but it has been delayed due to coronavirus rampaging across the country.