Labour migration and fertility decline in China

Zhongdong Ma, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

The sharp fertility decline in China to below the replacement level (TFR≈1.5) is apparently a miracle to the government efforts in controlling fertility. Accompanying the decline has been massive labor migration at an unprecedented scale. To prevent rural families from settling in urban areas, Chinese government still restricts the change of resident status (hukou) to cities. In such a context, we argue that labor migration contribute significantly to the fertility reduction because of the enhanced spousal residence separation, the delay of both marriage and birth, and the usual downward adjustment of fertility to the new urban environment. Using the micro data of China’s 2000 census, we will compare the mean age at marriage and the average number of children of labor migrants with those of their non-migrating counterparts in rural/urban areas, respectively, and study the effect of migration on fertility in a multivariate framework. Findings have important policy implication for the nation’s fertility control, migration, and development.

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Presented in Poster Session 2