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Title: Family Size in Low-Fertility China: Determinants and Effects
Authors: Chen, Shuang
Advisors: Jennings, Jennifer L
Contributors: Population Studies Department
Subjects: Demography
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Nearly half of the world population today lives in countries with below- replacement level fertility, and the policy challenges posed by low fertility and small family size are no longer confined to industrialized countries. Yet, most of our knowledge about fertility and family size in developing countries is generated from high- fertility settings. With more developing countries expected to reach below-replacement fertility levels, there is a compelling need to renew our understanding of the determinants and effects of family size in developing countries under the new fertility regime. This dissertation consists of three studies set in the context of China, where fertility has reached and remained below the replacement level since the early 1990s. In Chapter 1, I re-evaluate the effect of women’s education on fertility by exploiting China’s higher education expansion as a natural experiment. I find a positive causal effect of women’s education on the number of children ever born. I reveal that education does not cause women to delay their first marriage. Rather, it increases the demand for children among ever-married women. In Chapter 2, I examine whether the birth of a second child reduces parental investment in the firstborn child, measured by educational aspirations and expenditures. I also show how the effect varies by child gender, family socioeconomic status, and as the “one-child” policy changes. In Chapter 3, I present evidence that ending the “one-child” policy leads to an increase in desired family size, settling a long-standing debate about whether and to what extent fertility desires are depressed by policy restrictions in China. Together, findings from this dissertation not only help determine why low fertility persists in China but also have wider implications beyond the Chinese context.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Population Studies

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