Women’s fertility preference and fertility plan in urban China: an empirical study on the universal two-child policy

JIN Yongai1 SONG Jian1 CHEN Wei1

(1.Center for Population and Development Studies, Renmin University of China)

【Abstract】Using the 2016 fertility survey data from 12 cities in 6 provinces of urban China, this study empirically investigates the fertility preference, fertility plan and their determinants for married women with one child in urban families. We find that 24.4% of women have a timetable for the birth of a second child, while 5.1% of women have intention but no timetable. Family backgrounds such as the number of siblings and whether a woman lives with her parents-in-law have significant impact on the fertility preference but are insignificantly associated with the fertility plan. In contrast, economic costs and caregiving burdens significantly affect women’s second childbearing plan but are insignificantly associated with the fertility preference. Gender preferences facilitate the bearing of a second child, meaning that women whose first child is a girl are more likely to plan for a second child. Finally, the gap between women’s fertility plan and fertility preference is mainly driven by practical factors such as women’s age, household income, availability of care and gender preference.

【Keywords】 the universal two-child policy; fertility preference; fertility plan; determinants;


【Funds】 National Social Sciences Funding Project “study on women’s fertility level and their deciding factors after the implementation of the universal two-child’ policy” (16CRK003) National Social Sciences Funding Project “|study on the fertility selection mechanism of unbalanced gender ratio at birth” (15BRK010) National Social Sciences Major Funding Project “study on the effect of implementation of the universal two-child fertility policy” (15ZDC036)

Download this article

(Translated by HE Lin)


    [1]. ① The women whose desired number of children is more than 2 account for 1.16%, while the women whose planned number of children is more than 2 account for 0.13%. [^Back]

    [2]. ① The women whose desired number of children is 0 only account for 2.1%. [^Back]

    [3]. ① We have placed the same independent variables in the two models of fertility preference and fertility plans for comparison and analysis. In the meantime, as fertility preference will affect fertility plans, we have added the variable of the desired number of children into the model of fertility plans. Results show that the desired number of children has a significant impact on fertility plans while the influence and significance of other variables remain the same. The model results are not included in this study due to limitations of the length. [^Back]


    1 Chen, W. and Jin, Y. Population Journal (人口学刊), (2): 3–13 (2011).

    2 Jia, Z. & Feng, X. Population Journal (人口学刊), (3): 5–15 (2015).

    3 Shi, Z. & Yang, Y. Population Research (人口研究), (5): 27–40 (2014).

    4 Wang, J. & Wang, G. Population Journal (人口学刊), (5): 5–16 (2016).

    5 Yang, J. Population Research (人口研究), (2): 49–52 (2011).

    6 Yang, J. Academia Bimestris (学海), (2): 49–52 (2008).

    7 Zhang, L. & Wang, G. Population&Economics (人口与经济), (6): 43–51 (2015).

    8 Zhang, Y., Yin, X. & Xu, W. Journal of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law (中南财经政法大学学报), (5): 14–19 (2014).

    9 Zhang, X., Huang, C. & Zhang, Q. et al. Population Research (人口研究), (1): 87–97 (2016).

    10 Zheng, Z. Chinese Journal of Population Science (中国人口科学), (6): 15–25.

    11 Zheng, Z. Population Research (人口研究), (2): 44–47 (2011).

    12 Zhuang, Y., Jiang, Y. & Wang, Z. et al. Population Research (人口研究), (3): 3–13 (2014).

    13 Ajzen I. 1991. The Theory of Planned Behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 50: 179–211.

    14 Ajzen I. and Fishbein M. 2005. The Influence of Attitudes on Behavior. The Handbook of Attitudes: 173–221.

    15 Billari F. C., Philipov D. and Testa M. R. 2009. Attitudes, Norms and Perceived Behavioural Control: Explaining Fertility Intentions in Bulgaria. European Journal of Population 4: 439–465.

    16 Bongaarts J. 1990. The Measurement of Wanted Fertility. Population and Development Review 3: 487–506.

    17 Bongaarts J. 2001. Fertility and Reproductive Preferences in Post-transitional Societies. Population and Development Review 27 (Supplement: Global Fertility Transition): 260–281.

    18 Gray E., Evans A. and Reimondos A. 2013. Childbearing Desires of Childless Men and Women: When are Goals Adjusted? Advances in Life Course Research 2: 141–149.

    19 Heiland F., Prskawetz A. and Sanderson W. C. 2008. Are Individuals’ Desired Family Sizes Stable? Evidence from West German Panel Data. European Journal of Population 2: 129–156.

    20 Kohler H. P., Rodgers J. L. and Christensen K. 1999. Is Fertility Behavior in our Genes? Findings from a Danish Twin Study. Population and Development Review 2: 253–288.

    21 Miller W. B. 1994. Childbearing Motivations, Desires, and Intentions: a Theoretical Framework. Genetic,Social and General Psychology Monographs: 1–34.

    22 Miller W. B. 1992. Personality Traits and Developmental Experiences as Antecedents of Childbearing Motivation. Demography 2: 265–285.

    23 Miller W. B. 1986. Proception: An Important Fertility Behavior. Demography 4: 579–594.

    24 Miller W. B. and Pasta D. J. 1995. Behavioral Intentions: Which Ones Predict Fertility Behavior in Married Couples? Journal of Applied Social Psychology 6: 530–555.

    25 Miller W. B. and Pasta D. J. 1993. Motivational and Nonmotivational Determinants of Child-number Desires. Population and Environment 2: 113–138.

    26 Miller W. B. and Pasta D. J. 1988. A Model of Fertility Motivation, Desires, and Expectations Early in Women’s Reproductive Careers. Social Biology 3–4: 236–250.

    27 Nauck B. and Klaus D. 2007. The Varying Value of Children Empirical Results from Eleven Societies in Asia, Africa and Europe. Current Sociology 4: 487–503.

    28 Thomson E. 1997. Couple Childbearing Desires, Intentions, and Births. Demography 3: 343–354.

This Article


CN: 11-1489/C

Vol 40, No. 06, Pages 22-37

November 2016


Article Outline


  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Theory, data and methodology
  • 3 Results
  • 4 Conclusions and implications
  • Footnote