Below Replacement Fertility Preferences in Shanghai, China

Giovanna Merli, Duke University

China has joined the group of low-fertility countries. With a TFR somewhere in the range of 1.4 to 1.6, much speculation about China's future fertility depends on stated fertility intentions. Specifically, is there evidence that the gap between individual and state fertility preferences is narrowing, or that achieved fertility may not reach stated goals due to social and economic constraints? We use a probability sample of Shanghai residents. We examine fertility preferences that incorporate the perspectives of the individual and the state and that allow the measurement of the deflating effect of policy on current intentions. Our results show that intended families are very small in this urban setting and that relaxing policy constraints on fertility would likely raise them only modestly. These empirical findings help ground speculations on the future of fertility in the hypothetical absence of policy constraints.

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Presented in Session 74: The Emergence of Very Low Fertility in China and India