Fertility Squeeze and Gender Bias: A Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of Birth Planning Policy and Sex Ratio at Birth in China

Juhua Yang, Renmin University of China

By adopting a multi-method approach, this paper examines the relationship between birth planning policy and sex ratio at birth in China. Analysis of focus group interview and in-depth interview data provides insights on how the policy restrictiveness generates fertility squeeze, and the 1.5-child policy exacerbates gender bias, both leaving people with son preference little choice but to abort female fetuses, particularly the second and higher order fetuses. Analytical results from 2000 prefecture-level and 2005 individual-level data depict an inverse U-shape relationship, while varying by parity, between policy and sex ratio at birth: it is the highest with the 1.5-child policy, followed by a strict one-child policy, and finally two-child policy. Aborting female fetuses meets both the policy demand to have few children and individual demand to have a son. A less restricitve policy without gender bias is, therefore, necessary, while insufficient, to facilitate this ratio back to normality.

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Presented in Session 47: Determinants of Fertility in Asia