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Does population control lead to better child quality? Evidence from China’s one-child policy enforcement

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  • Li, Bingjing
  • Zhang, Hongliang

Abstract

Scholarly evidence on the quantity-quality trade-off is mixed in part because of the identification challenge due to endogenous family size. This paper provides new evidence of the causal effect of child quantity on child quality by exploiting regional differences in the enforcement intensity of China’s one-child policy (OCP) as an exogenous source of variation in family size. Using the percentage of current mothers of primary childbearing age who gave a higher order birth in 1981, we construct a quantitative indicator of the extent of local violation of the OCP, referred to as the excess fertility rate (EFR). We then use regional differences in EFRs, net differences in pre-existing fertility preferences and socio-economic characteristics, to proxy for regional differences in OCP enforcement intensity. Using micro data from the Chinese Population Censuses, we find that prefectures with stricter enforcement of the OCP have experienced larger declines in family size and also greater improvements in children’s education. Despite the evident trade-off between family size and child quality in China, our quantitative estimates suggest that China’s OCP makes only a modest contribution to the development of its human capital.

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  • Li, Bingjing & Zhang, Hongliang, 2017. "Does population control lead to better child quality? Evidence from China’s one-child policy enforcement," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 246-260.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:2:p:246-260
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2016.09.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Yuan Tian, 2020. "International trade liberalization and domestic institutional reform: Effects of WTO accession on Chinese internal migration policy," Discussion Papers 2020-17, University of Nottingham, GEP.
    3. Anh P. Ngo, 2020. "Effects of Vietnam’s two-child policy on fertility, son preference, and female labor supply," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 33(3), pages 751-794, July.
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    5. Pauline Rossi & Yun Xiao, 2020. "Spillovers in Childbearing Decisions and Fertility Transitions: Evidence from China," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 20-031/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    6. Yi Chen & Yingfei Huang, 2020. "The power of the government: China's Family Planning Leading Group and the fertility decline of the 1970s," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 42(35), pages 985-1038.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Quantity-quality trade-off; Family planning; Child education;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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