Fertility preferences in China in the 21st Century

Rui LU, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Anne H. Gauthier, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Gert Stulp, University of Groningen

There is a continuing debate on how low China’s fertility has reached and whether it will increase in the near future. This paper addresses this debate by examining trends in fertility preferences based on a meta review. It distinguishes three types of fertility measurements that address different aspects of reproductive decision-making: ideal, desired, and planned family size. The data come from 152 studies published since 1980. Meta-regression is used to analyse trend in fertility preferences while controlling for sample characteristics. The results show that the decline in fertility preferences after 1980s has not continued in the 21st century. Moreover, average fertility desires are still on a low level (fewer than 2 children) and we found evidence of a strong two-child norm. Results of this study have implications for the discussion on China’s risk of falling into the “low fertility trap” exists, and whether fertility rates are likely to increase (or not) when the government relaxes the country’s family planning policies.

Keywords: Fertility and childbirth, Family demography

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 16. Fertility: Preferences and Intentions