, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 1341-1364
Date: 02 Mar 2011

Family size and maternal health: evidence from the One-Child policy in China

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In this paper, we examine the impact of family size on maternal health outcomes by exploiting the tremendous change in family size under the One-Child policy in China. Using data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey 1993–2006, we find that mothers with fewer children have a higher calorie intake and a lower probability of being underweight and having low blood pressure; meanwhile, they have a higher probability of being overweight. This would occur if a smaller family size increases the food consumption of mothers, leading underweight women to attain a normal weight and normal weight women becoming overweight. Robust tests are performed to provide evidence on the hypothesis that the tradeoff between children’s quantity and mother’s “quality” is through a budget constraint mechanism, that is, having more children decreases the resource allocated to mothers and affects their health outcomes.

Responsible editor: Junsen Zhang