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Family Planning Policy in China: Measurement and Impact on Fertility

  • Wang, Fei
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The extent to which China's family planning policy has driven its fertility transition over the past decades is debatable. The disagreement is partly sourced from the different ways of measuring the policy. Most existing measures, constructed on the policy history, generally, do not include complete secular and cross-sectional policy variations, fail to heterogeneously reflect people's exposure to the policy, and often suffer from endogeneity. This paper reviews the entire history of China's family planning policy and accordingly, proposes a new policy measure that integrates the policy variations more completely, heterogeneously, and exogenously by using the cross-sectional data of the China Health and Nutrition Survey. The new measure estimates the effect of policy on fertility and generates negative regression coefficients that well reproduce the history. As for the contribution of the policy to fertility transition, the measure explains a sizable level shift of fertility for major cohorts, but only accounts for a small portion of the fertility decline over generations. In addition, a more-educated woman, a woman residing in a better-developed coastal province, or a woman whose first child is a son tends to desire fewer children and thus, receives lighter pressure from the policy. Other than fertility, a woman would delay her marriage in response to the policy, particularly when it is strongly enforced. Finally, the paper shows that using an incomplete measure could systematically underestimate the effect of policy on fertility and adopting an endogenous measure or a measure lacking heterogeneity could even produce a positive effect of the policy.

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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/42226/1/MPRA_paper_42226.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 42226.

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Date of creation: 21 Oct 2012
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:42226
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  1. Nancy Qian, 2009. "Quantity-Quality and the One Child Policy:The Only-Child Disadvantage in School Enrollment in Rural China," NBER Working Papers 14973, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Asadul Islam & Russell Smyth, 2010. "Children and Parental Health: Evidence from China," Monash Economics Working Papers 29-10, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. William Lavely & Ronald Freedman, 1990. "The Origins of the Chinese Fertility Decline," Demography, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 357-367, August.
  5. Paresh Kumar Narayan & Xiujian Peng, 2006. "An Econometric Analysis of the Determinants of Fertility for China, 1952-2000," Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(2), pages 165-183.
  6. Olsen, Randall J, 1994. "Fertility and the Size of the U.S. Labor Force," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 60-100, March.
  7. Xiaoyu Wu & Lixing Li, 2012. "Family size and maternal health: evidence from the One-Child policy in China," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 1341-1364, October.
  8. David Lam & Suzanne Duryea, 1999. "Effects of Schooling on Fertility, Labor Supply, and Investments in Children, with Evidence from Brazil," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(1), pages 160-192.
  9. Dennis Tao Yang & Marjorie McElroy, 2000. "Carrots and Sticks: Fertility Effects of China's Population Policies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 389-392, May.
  10. Hongbin Li & Junsen Zhang, 2009. "Testing the External Effect of Household Behavior: The Case of the Demand for Children," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(4).
  11. Hongbin Li & Junsen Zhang, 2007. "Do High Birth Rates Hamper Economic Growth?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 110-117, February.
  12. Schultz, T Paul & Zeng, Yi, 1995. "Fertility of Rural China: Effects of Local Family Planning and Health Programs," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 329-50, November.
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