Differentials in rural fertility behavior in Hebei Province, China: The influence of socioeconomic and family planning program contexts

Jin Wei, Fordham University


In addition to the importance of China's population growth for the world population, two significant population events have attracted the attention of world population scholars in the past two decades. These two events are the introduction of the most stringent and most systematic national family planning program and a remarkable fertility decline. Results of individual level studies on fertility in China are consistent with numerous studies in both more developed and less developed nations which have established the importance of a woman's socioeconomic characteristics and family planning behavior. Less well established is whether community level characteristics independently affect the woman's fertility behavior. Using a modification of Freedman's model of fertility determinants as the analytic framework and data from the 1988 Fertility and Birth Control Sample Survey in China, the purpose of this study is to investigate how the socioeconomic development level and family planning program efforts of the communities in which women reside affect their individual fertility behavior. The analysis focuses on three age cohorts of rural women: 30-34 years, 35-39 years and 40-44 years. The analysis shows that the socioeconomic level of community development affects fertility for all three age cohorts, while the family planning program merit of the community affects the fertility of the two youngest cohorts. In addition, the effect of the community variables on fertility among women in the two younger age cohorts is mediated through their individual family planning behaviors. The above results are consistent with changes in the family planning program and socioeconomic development in China in the past decades. In the earlier stage of the family planning program, the main emphasis was to lower fertility by raising the age of marriage, contraceptive use was encouraged but not widely available and the abortion was legal but not encouraged. As the program proceeded in late 70s and early 80s, in addition to the policy of late marriage, more and more emphasis was put on contraceptive use and abortion, especially contraceptive use. From the middle 80s, the family planning program has been strengthened by more widely adopting abortion as an additional measure to eliminate unwanted births. Since the 1960s, China has made certain progress in primary and middle school education. This socioeconomic development significantly reduced the fertility of all three age groups.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Wei, Jin, "Differentials in rural fertility behavior in Hebei Province, China: The influence of socioeconomic and family planning program contexts" (1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9530046.