Poster Paper: Breaking the One Child Policy in China

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Exhibits (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Zhengtao Li, Zhejiang University of Finance & Economics and Wanxin Li, City University of Hong Kong

China started to implement nationwide the coercive one child policy in 1980. The sanctions on non-compliant parents were severe. Since then, the Chinese families thus have been faced the difficult choice of obeying the government order or following the traditional Chinese culture, which honors the family lineage to be carried by male offspring and the more children the merrier. We employed mulitinominal logit model to examine why a family chose to break the one child policy, particularly the role played by Chinese traditional culture, by using the China Family Panel Survey data 2010. We test the hypotheses derived from the following two conception of fertility behaviors: human capital and cultural determinism. Parents’ human capital is embodied in their employment, income, and educational attainment. While cultural influence is captured by their beliefs in the importance of having a male child for carrying the family lineage (individual beliefs), number of siblings (socialization in family life), and provincial average family size in 1982 (social influence) (FS1/FS3, please double check how this variable is measured). Having controlled for the number of children born in or before 1980, age of parents, whether the first born was a boy, hukou, provincial per capita GDP , (RICH, please double check how this variable is measured) we found both the human capital hypothesis and cultural determinism hold. Mothers’ income increases the likelihood of not giving birth to children after 1980. Mothers’ educational attainment and working in a state-owned unit both increase the likelihood of complying with the one child policy after 1980. Parents’ valuing the family lineage to be carried by male children, their number of siblings, and provincial average family size all increase the likelihood of breaking the one child policy. However, the first born to be a boy does not stop parents from breaking the one child policy. This calls for future research on the Chinese parents’ desire for boy (gender selection) and for more children.