Women’s Labor Force Participation and Childcare Choices in Urban China during the Economic Transition
China’s transition from a centrally planned to a market economy has substantially eroded governmental support for childcare. This paper examines the labor force participation and childcare choices of urban Chinese women during the economic transition and explores the distributional implications of childcare reform. The analysis shows that following child care reform, access to informal caregivers became increasingly critical for women’s labor force participation. The rise of women’s dependence on informal caregivers apparently accounted for much of the decline in women’s labor force participation during the period from 1997 to 2006. In effect, child care reform heightened the tensions between income earning and child rearing for women who had no access to informal care providers and also could not afford to use formal care services.
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