Fertility in China 1982–1990: Gender equality as a complement to wealth flows theory

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Abstract

Some scholars claim there is little variation in Chinese fertility because of’ coercive‘family planning policies. This research, however, demonstrates that other factors contribute to significant variation in fertility rates among China's 30 provinces/administrative divisions. Although family planning and socioeconomic development are found to explain significant amounts of variation in fertility for both the 1982 and 1990 census cross-sections, it was also found that gender equality in education had become significant by 1990. Path model results that lag the effects of 1982 socioeconomic development and gender equality in education also indicate that they both have sizable direct effects and moderate indirect effects through family planning behavior on 1990 fertility rates. Discussions include the possibility that the recent free market and institutional reforms, e.g., the decollectivization of agriculture, have contributed a social structure whereby many Chinese families have increased awareness of the opportunity costs associated with their reproductive decision making.

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