China just registered 14 million people that before this, had never officially existed on record.
That’s a population size bigger than the state of Illinois, or Pennsylvania.
The 14.35 million were registered over the past four years. Without official IDs, these citizens would have been previously denied access to education and healthcare benefits, Xinhua reports.
As for why so many went unregistered, one big factor to blame was the country’s one-child policy, which it held for nearly 40 years until this was relaxed in 2015, to allow couples to have two children.
Parents who had more than one child were subject to hefty fines, and were more likely to register only their boys, in part due to tradition favouring men.
The country’s last census in 2010 estimated that there were 13 million people without a registered ID, or hukou, but a study estimates that there may be as many as 25 million women and girls in China that are unregistered.
The Chinese government has been pushing for more registrations since 2014, to encourage rural Chinese to settle in rapidly developing urban areas.
About 100 million people from rural areas are expected to settle in cities by 2020.