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Report on the Economic and Social Development of Tibet: Part II
    Date:03-31-2009 Source:Xinhuanet Author:    

 II. Human Development: Goal of Economic Development

Development, a multidimensional concept, is commonly understood as the development of the economy, an integral process of economic growth and the transition of the growth pattern. But the meaning does not end there. The word has also become recognized as the development of human beings. Economic development promotes the accumulation of social wealth, providing the necessary conditions and basic materials for human development. Human development, which improves the fundamental qualities of people and increases opportunities, is the ultimate goal of economic development.

1.Population: Quantity and Quality

Since the introduction in 1978 of the reform and opening-up policies, the exchange of human resources between Tibet and the inland areas has seen a steady increase, with more and more migrant workers seeking employment and business opportunities in Tibet. Yet the Tibetan population remains the overwhelming majority in the region, accounting for a steady 90% or more of the total population. Moreover, the increasing birthrate of the local Tibetan population is the major reason for the overall population boom, as shown in Figs. 9 and 10 [10] [11] while the total population of the Han and other ethnic groups has always been under 10% of the total population.


The 1959 democratic reform brought unprecedented changes to the growth pattern of the population of Tibet, as a result of the ensuing economic development and improved medical services.

First, in the less than 60 years from the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951 to 2008 the total population of Tibet increased from 1,228,000 in 1959 to 2,870,800 in 2008, and the population of the Tibetans increased from one million to 2.7 million. The family planning policy widely adopted in inland areas is not implemented in the vast farming and pastoral areas of Tibet. According to a sample survey, conducted by relevant statistical organization, of 1% of the resident population in Tibet, the annual growth rate of the local resident population for the past ten years has remained above 10,[12] far exceeding the national average. In contrast, during the two centuries before the democratic reform, the total population of Tibet increased by a mere 58,000, and the Tibetan population practically stopped growing.

Second, average life expectancy is an important index of human development. The current average life expectancy in Tibet is 67 years, as shown in Fig. 11. In contrast, the figure was only 35.5 in old Tibet.

Third, the mortality rate of population in Tibet has dropped significantly. The average mortality rate before the democratic reform was a stunning 28, and those of women and children-two vulnerable groups-were even higher, at 50 and 430, respectively. Currently the mortality rate of pregnant women and women giving birth has dropped from 50 in the early 1950s to 3.1 in 2007, and infant mortality rate has dropped from 430 to 24.5 in the same period (see Fig. 11).

It can be concluded from the above that the population of Tibet has undergone a change in its development pattern. Old Tibet experienced two highs and two lows in population development -- "high birth rate and death rate, and low life expectancy and growth rate." In contrast, Tibet today sees a comparatively high birth rate and life expectancy, low mortality rate, and a steady growth in population. It is also clear that the assertion that "local Tibetan people are becoming a minority due to a large inflow of Han people into the region," made by some international non-governmental organizations and individuals, is a false assumption contrary to the facts.

 
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