The Effect of Urbanization on China's Fertility

Zhen Guo, Xi'an Jiaotong University
Christoph M. Schimmele, University of Victoria
Shuzhuo Li, Xi'an Jiaotong University

The relationship between urbanization and fertility decline is known to be inverse in developed countries. However, the nature of this relationship in developing countries that already have relatively low fertilities is not well-understood. This study aims to illustrate how much urbanization contributed to China’s fertility decline between 1982-2008 and forecasts how much it can contribute to future reductions in fertility. The study examines changes in the total fertility rate (TFR) at both the national and provincial levels, given regional differences in the urbanization rate. The results show that changes in rural fertility behavior accounted for most of the decline in the national TFR between 1982 and 2008. This finding suggests that official birth control policies were instrumental in curbing China’s population growth. Given the negative effect of urbanization on the TFR, it is possible to relax the one-child policy without having adverse implications for population growth.

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Presented in Session 29: Urbanization