New study documents female employment, fertility rates in China

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Women in China’s workforce have significantly lower fertility rates than those who are not employed. That is one finding in a new Harvard Kennedy School Faculty Working Paper co-authored by HKS Professor Richard Zeckhauser.

“Jobs and Kids: Female Employment and Fertility in China” synthesizes the analysis of data taken from the 2006 China Health and Nutrition Survey to determine how growing labor-force participation is affecting birth rates in the world’s most populous country.

“China is a particularly important place to study the relationship between women’s employment and fertility, given its rapid pace of economic development, enormous population, and controversial family planning policies,” the authors write.

Zeckhauser and co-authors Hai Fang (University of Colorado, Denver), Karen Eggleston (Stanford University) and John Rizzo (State University of New York, Stony Brook) sought to isolate the impact of rising female employment trends from that of China’s controversial policy which limits urban couples to one child, and most rural couples to no more than two children and no more than one son.