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Fertility in China: An uncertain future


  • Stuart Basten
  • Quanbao Jiang


As one of the world's two population 'billionaires', the future of China's population is truly of global significance. With its very low fertility and a rapidly ageing population, it might appear that the country's famous (or notorious) family planning restrictions are somewhat anachronistic. Here, we explore the process of reform seen over the past three decades and, most recently, in late 2013. We suggest that the popular notion that the family planning restrictions are acting as a pressure valve suppressing a pent-up demand for childbearing, particularly in rural China, is likely to be inaccurate. We also suggest that further reform of the restrictions will not solve the problems of population ageing or many of the other issues widely associated with the restrictions. We conclude that the prospects for further reform are wide-ranging, but likely to be beset by many challenges.

Suggested Citation

  • Stuart Basten & Quanbao Jiang, 2015. "Fertility in China: An uncertain future," Population Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 69(sup1), pages 97-105, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rpstxx:v:69:y:2015:i:sup1:p:s97-s105
    DOI: 10.1080/00324728.2014.982898

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    Cited by:

    1. Jane Golley & Rod Tyers & Yixiao Zhou, 2018. "Fertility and savings contractions in China: Long‐run global implications," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(11), pages 3194-3220, November.
    2. Feng Wang & Yong Cai & Ke Shen & Stuart Gietel-Basten, 2018. "Is Demography Just a Numerical Exercise? Numbers, Politics, and Legacies of China’s One-Child Policy," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 55(2), pages 693-719, April.
    3. Jane Golley & Rod Tyers & Yixiao Zhou, 2016. "Contractions in Chinese Fertility and Savings: Long-run Domestic and Global Implications," RBA Annual Conference Volume (Discontinued), in: Iris Day & John Simon (ed.),Structural Change in China: Implications for Australia and the World, Reserve Bank of Australia.

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