A Cross-Temporal Meta-Review of Fertility Preferences in China

Stuart A. Basten, University of Oxford
Baochang Gu, Renmin University of China
Hou Jiawei, Renmin University of China

In recent years, scholars have increasingly called into question the claim that the fall to low fertility in China was primarily driven by family planning restrictions; instead that economic development, urbanisation, and the development of improved educational and employment opportunities. In this view, China – and urban areas in particular – share more in common with other low fertility settings in Pacific Asia than perhaps previously recognised. Fertility preferences, as measured through ideal or intended number of children have been employed by demographers in a variety of ways. We present the results of a meta-analysis of fertility preferences in urban and rural China covering the period from the implementation of the one-child policy in 1980 through to 2009. We find indicative evidence of widespread below-replacement level fertility preferences. These concur with other national level surveys. Further policy relaxations are unlikely to result in a 'baby boom'.

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 Presented in Session P3. Fertility Intentions and Behaviors