The One-Child Policy and Sex Ratio of Children in Transitional China: A Longitudinal Analysis

Juhua Yang, People's University of China

High sex ratio at birth in China has been observed since the mid-1980s, and the one-child policy has been suggested as a cause. Using CHNS data (1989-2000) and highlighting local policy variations in policy rules and enforcement I find that (1) a strong policy rule and strong enforcement reduce sex ratio, while a moderate policy contributes to excess boys, and (2) shifting from a strong policy into a moderate policy exacerbates, while shifting into a stronger enforcement ameliorates, sex ratio. Thus, more balanced sex ratio is achieved in places where and at times when the policy is enforced more strictly. However, policy effect is contingent on parity, and it is the gendered nature of the policy that raises sex ratio. Findings suggest that at this stage of socioeconomic development when fertility decline is faster than the decline of gender preference, external pressures should be adopted to reduce son proclivity and sex ratio.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Inequality, Labor Force, Education, Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Religion, Policy