Fertility Decline and Women’s Status Improvement in China

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

PDF Wu, Xiaogang, Hua Ye, and Gloria Guangye He. 2014. "Fertility Decline and Women’s Status Improvement in China." PSC Research Report No. 14-812. 1 2014.

The literature typically treats fertility reduction in developing countries as a result of women's status improvement, based on the assumption that women have greater decision making power on childbearing as their status improves. This paper investigates whether and how fertility decline leads to reduction in gender inequality and the improvement of women's status in China, where the fertility decline was mainly resulted from the state policy intervention. Based on the analyses of data from two nationally representative surveys, we show that women with fewer children do less housework and are more satisfied with their status within family. Such effects are more pronounced for women in more recent marital cohorts. Across generations, lower fertility implies fewer siblings and daughters may have benefited more in terms of years of schooling and subsequently occupational attainment.

Country of focus: China.

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