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The impact of China’s one-child policy on intergenerational and gender relations


  • Yang Hu
  • Xuezhu Shi


Drawing on data from the China Family Panel Studies, this article assesses the state of gender equality among Chinese children under the one-child policy. We demonstrate the importance of conducting intra-gender and inter-gender comparisons taking into account the perspectives of parents and children and the intergenerational (in)congruence between these two perspectives. Our results show that parents invest more financial resource and time in educating singleton than non-singleton children, which partially supports the hypothesis of intra-gender equality. The findings for children’s subjective perceptions of their own life circumstances do not consistently support this hypothesis. Since gender differences in intergenerational investment and children’s subjective perceptions varied little by sibship structure, the hypothesis of inter-gender equality is not consistently supported. We found a stronger negative association between the presence of male and elder siblings and intergenerational investment in girls, and a larger male–female gap in intergenerational investment in urban than in rural areas. We also report a considerable intergenerational incongruence between parents’ and children’s perspectives. Our findings call into question the effectiveness of intervening solely in parental behaviour and intergenerational investment to enhance children’s outcomes. They underline the importance of considering both intra-gender and inter-gender inequalities in moving the gender revolution forward.

Suggested Citation

  • Yang Hu & Xuezhu Shi, 2020. "The impact of China’s one-child policy on intergenerational and gender relations," Contemporary Social Science, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(3), pages 360-377, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocxx:v:15:y:2020:i:3:p:360-377
    DOI: 10.1080/21582041.2018.1448941

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    Cited by:

    1. Yijie Wang & Yanan Zhang, 2022. "“As Good as a Boy†But Still a Girl: Gender Equity Within the Context of China’s One-Child Policy," SAGE Open, , vol. 12(1), pages 21582440221, March.

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