China's fertility change: an analysis with multiple measures

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Background The period fertility in China has declined to very low levels, and the completed cohort fertility rate (CFR) has also decreased significantly. However, the exact fertility rate remains controversial. While the tempo effect has played a significant role in China’s period fertility decline, child underreporting has to be taken into consideration in China’s fertility research. Methods By using the census data from 1982 to 2010, and the 1% population sample survey data from 1995 to 2015, we systematically analyzed China’s fertility and its trends since the 1980s using period fertility measures, adjusted period fertility measures, cohort fertility measures, and indirect estimation methods. Results The results show that marriage postponement significantly affects the TFR decline. Even after eliminating the tempo and parity structure effect, the adjusted TFR has fallen below 1.5, and the first-order fertility rate dropped to 0.9 in 2015. The CFR for women aged 45–49 declined from 5.37 in 1982 to 1.62 in 2015 mainly because of a decrease in fourth and higher-order births from 1982 to 1990, a decrease in second and third births from 1990 to 2000, and a decrease in second births from 2000 to 2015. Indirect estimation methods yielded a TFR in the range of 1.5–1.6 for the period 2000–2010 and an average TFR of 1.49 for the period 2011–2020. Conclusions The traditional norm of universal marriage and childbearing for Chinese women is changing. China’s fertility has been steadily declining, as measured by both period and cohort indicators. Following the historical change, fertility may continue to decline even after introducing the universal three-child policy in China in 2021.
Total fertility rate, Tempo effect, Parity progression ratio, Completed cohort fertility rate, Indirect estimation
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Yang, S., Jiang, Q., & Sánchez-Barricarte, J. J. (2022). China’s fertility change: an analysis with multiple measures. En Population Health Metrics, 20 (1), pp. 1-14