There are fewer two-child because rural families have higher fertility costs?

Nov. 20,2018
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In recent years, China’s population problem has shifted from the challenges brought by high fertility to the difficulties associated with low birth rate, such as aging population, sub-replacement fertility, and shortage of labor. Recently, China has implemented a series of progressive fertility policy reforms, from “two-child fertility policy for couples where both are from a single-child family” and “two-child fertility policy for couples where either the husband or the wife is from a single-child family” to “universal two-child policy,” which are positive responses to such difficulties and have aroused widespread concern in the society.

Unlike optimistic estimates of a few scholars, most surveys showed that the above-mentioned fertility policy reforms, including the universal two-child policy, received lukewarm responses and were far from the expectations.

Theoretical mechanism and empirical analysis of lukewarm response to two-child policy published on Finance & Trade Economics by JIN Weidong et al., demonstrates the change in fertility costs, and its impact on urban and rural families’ desire for procreation as well as on the effect of the two-child policy.

The results reveal that, on the one hand, the cost pressure of rural families having two children was rising rapidly and their desire for procreation was greatly reduced; on the other hand, the pressure of urban families having two children was slowly decreasing, which made their desire for procreation slightly increased. In the end, the two factors had led to an overall decline in urban and rural families’ desire for procreation. Therefore, as the actual birth rate is currently far below the level of fertility willingness, the lukewarm response to the two-child policy is an inevitable result. Based on family survey data at the micro level, this paper basically verifies the different changes in fertility costs for urban and rural areas with the quasi-experimental method, thus providing empirical evidence for the above theoretical analysis.

Therefore, the author gives three Suggestions, firstly, with reference to the experience of Japan, Republic of Korea and European countries, China should introduce fertility incentives involving economic, educational and family services as soon as possible, for the aim of achieving socialization of family fertility costs; secondly, these fertility incentives should not only address the difficulties in urban families’ fertility expenditures, but more importantly, they need to alleviate the impact of rapid rise of fertility costs in rural areas; thirdly, we must abandon fertility concepts such as “late marriage and late childbearing,” “fewer and better birth,” and “a couple has only one child” and improve the psychological benefits of fertility to eliminate the adverse effects of continuously increasing fertility costs.

Corresponding Author: JIN Weidong
CNKI Press Officer: ZHONG Ming

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