Jobs and Kids: Female Employment and Fertility in Rural China

Understanding the relationship between female employment and fertility is a vital ingredient for effective population policy. This column presents new findings from China based on well over 2000 women between 20 and 52 years old. It finds that non-agricultural jobs for women reduce the number of children per woman by 0.64 and the probability of having more than one child by 54.8%.

As the realities of an ageing population tick ever closer, policymakers have sharpened their focus on fertility. While low fertility in Europe has been labelled a crisis (Doepke et al. 2008), fertility in some high-income countries of East Asia, such as Japan and South Korea, is even lower. Fertility has also fallen significantly even in rapidly developing middle- and low-income economies, including those of China, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam (Figure 1). In China, the personal forces promoting fertility decline reinforce ongoing policies to curb population growth.

Also available in Chinese: "Gongzuo he zinü: Zhongguo nongcun nüxing jiuye he shangyulü."  Comparative Studies (Bijiao) 49(4) (Beijing: China CITIC Press): 1-7.