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The Effect of the One-Child Policy on Fertility in China: Identification Based on the Differences-in-Differences

Author

Listed:
  • Hongbin Li
  • Junsen Zhang
  • Yi Zhu

Abstract

This paper measures the effect of China's one-child policy on fertility by exploring the natural experiment that has been created by China's unique affirmative birth control policy, which is possibly the largest social experiment in human history. Because the one-child policy only applied to Han Chinese, but not to ethnic minorities, we construct a differences-in-differences estimator to identify the effect of the policy on fertility. Such a natural experiment is a rare opportunity, whether for the analysis of the effect on fertility or for the analysis of economics in general. Using two rounds of the Chinese Population Census, we find that the one-child policy has had a large effect on fertility. The average effect on the post-treatment cohorts on the probability of having a second child is as large as -11 percentage points. We also find that the magnitude is larger in urban areas and for more educated women. Our robustness tests suggest that our differences-in-differences estimates of the effect of the one-child policy are not very likely to be driven by other policy or socio-economic changes that have affected the Han and the minorities differently.

Suggested Citation

  • Hongbin Li & Junsen Zhang & Yi Zhu, 2005. "The Effect of the One-Child Policy on Fertility in China: Identification Based on the Differences-in-Differences," Discussion Papers 00019, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:chk:cuhkdc:00019
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    File URL: http://www.econ.cuhk.edu.hk/~discusspaper/00019.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Anrudh Jain, 1981. "The effect of female education on fertility: A simple explanation," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 18(4), pages 577-595, November.
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    4. Whittington, Leslie A & Alm, James & Peters, H Elizabeth, 1990. "Fertility and the Personal Exemption: Implicit Pronatalist Policy in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 545-556, June.
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    6. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1985. "The Demand for and Supply of Births: Fertility and Its Life Cycle Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 992-1015, December.
    7. Birdsall, Nancy, 1988. "Economic approaches to population growth," Handbook of Development Economics,in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 12, pages 477-542 Elsevier.
    8. Zhang, Junsen, 1994. "Socioeconomic Determinants of Fertility in Hebei Province, China: An Application of the Sequential Logit Model," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 67-90, October.
    9. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Keueger, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014.
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    11. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1980. "Testing the Quantity-Quality Fertility Model: The Use of Twins as a Natural Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 227-240, January.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Cai, Fang & Giles, John & Meng, Xin, 2006. "How well do children insure parents against low retirement income? An analysis using survey data from urban China," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 2229-2255.
    2. Junsen Zhang, 2017. "The Evolution of China's One-Child Policy and Its Effects on Family Outcomes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 141-160, Winter.
    3. Fei Wang & Liqiu Zhao & Zhong Zhao, 2017. "China’s family planning policies and their labor market consequences," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(1), pages 31-68, January.
    4. Yuyu Chen & Ginger Zhe Jin & Yang Yue, 2010. "Peer Migration in China," NBER Working Papers 15671, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Sung Hyo Hong & Ryan Sullivan, 2016. "The Effects Of Subsidies For Childbearing On Migration And Fertility: Evidence From Korea," The Singapore Economic Review (SER), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 61(04), pages 1-16, September.
    6. Mu, Ren & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2011. "Why does the Great Chinese Famine affect the male and female survivors differently? Mortality selection versus son preference," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, pages 92-105.
    7. Avraham Ebenstein, 2010. "The "Missing Girls" of China and the Unintended Consequences of the One Child Policy," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(1).
    8. repec:dem:demres:v:37:y:2017:i:16 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Wang, Fei, 2012. "Family Planning Policy in China: Measurement and Impact on Fertility," MPRA Paper 42226, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Hongbin Li & Lei Li & Binzhen Wu & Yanyan Xiong, 2012. "The End of Cheap Chinese Labor," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(4), pages 57-74, Fall.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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