Family Planning Policy in China: Measurement and Impact on Fertility
Fei Wang, University of Southern California
The family planning policy in China has been widely studied, but its impact on fertility remains controversial, which partly originates from different ways of measuring the policy. This paper reviews the history of the policy, and based on that constructs a new measure which can embody both secular and cross-sectional policy variations more completely, heterogeneously and exogenously, than previous measures. Using a cross-sectional data of the CHNS, this paper estimates the impact of family planning policy on the number of children ever born to a woman based on the new measure, and finds that the measure well fits the policy history, explains a sizable portion of the sample fertility change, and qualifies as an instrumental variable for fertility. Moreover, a woman with more years of education, living in a richer province, or whose first child is son, tends to actively control births and thus faces fewer restrictions from the policy.