"Wan, Xi, Shao" vs. Sent-Down: What Caused the Chinese Fertility Decline in the 1970s?

Shige Song, Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY)

Using the 2010 wave of the China Family Panel Studies survey data, this paper examines two competing explanations of the rapid decline in fertility rate in China in the 1970s. One explanation suggests that the fertility decline is triggered by the official “wan, xi, shao” (i.e., later marriage, longer birth interval, and fewer birth) family planning policy. Another explanation states that the sent-down movement, initiated right after the Cultural Revolution started in the late 1960s, played an important role in shaping the observed fertility pattern by delaying marriage of millions urban youths who were sent down to remote rural areas.

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 Presented in Session P3. Fertility Intentions and Behaviors