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Chin J Popul Sci. 1994;6(4):367-85.

Population in Tibet: its past, present, and prospects.



Tibet Autonomous Region in China had 12.8% of China's total land area and 45.6% of all Tibetan population in China in 1990. Other sizeable concentrations of Tibetans were in Sichuan Province (23.7%), Qinghai Province (19.9%), Gansu (8.0%), and Yunnan (2.4%). Doubling of its 2.0963 million people was expected every 37 years at the present rate of growth of 1.88%. The next largest population in Tibet were the Han who were mostly located in the city of Lhasa and Nyingchi region (over 10% of total population). Population density was low at 1.8 per sq. km. Higher densities could be found in Lhasa city (12.7), Qando region (4.6), and Shannon region (3.5). 12.7% of population was urban in 1953 and 11.5% lived in two cities and 30 towns in 1990. The legal age of marriage was 20 years for males and 18 years for females. Tibetan women had a very high married-to-unmarried ratio for all age groups. This was a result of more women than men in Tibet, the unavailability for marriage among resident lamas, and the permissibility of multiple marriages for women. The average age at first marriage was 23.1 years in 1990. The average household size was 5.31 (94.5% of households). Tibetan and other mixed minority households had smaller family sizes. 46.2% were two-generation households and 18.5% were three-generation households. 7.6% were single-member households. 11.8% of households were composed of unrelated persons. In the late 1980s, 3% of persons had 2 or more spouses, of whom 88.1% were polyandrous. Fertility fluctuated between 1950 and 1989, when it was still high at 4.22 children. Infertility was very high and ranging from 12.2% to 17.7% for women aged 50-64 years. Infertility for women aged 45-49 years was 10.0% and 9.4% for women aged 40-44 years. 45.3% had 1-2 children, 11.9% had 4 children, and 28.3% had 5 children. Fertility tended to be low in cities (1.82) and towns (2.16) and high in rural counties (4.57). Only 5.8% of women in cities had 4 or more children compared to 42.9% in rural areas. By 1990, the death rate had declined to 9.20. Infant mortality had been reduced in 1989 to 97.4. In 1990, life expectancy was 58.01 years: 59.62 years for males and 63.29 for females. The sex ratio was 97.4, and the sex ratio at birth was 103.2 in 1990. Illiteracy for persons aged 15 years and older declined to 69.34% by 1990 and to 72.39% for females. Illiteracy was lower among younger cohorts.

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