Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 1341–1364

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

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00148-011-0361-0

Cite this article as:
Wu, X. & Li, L. J Popul Econ (2012) 25: 1341. doi:10.1007/s00148-011-0361-0


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.


Maternal health Quantity–quality tradeoff One-Child policy 

JEL Classification

O15 J13 I10 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.China Academy of Public Finance and Public PolicyCentral University of Finance and EconomicsBeijingChina
  2. 2.China Center for Economic Research, National School of DevelopmentPeking UniversityBeijingChina

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