Advertisement

Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 1341–1364 | Cite as

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

  • Xiaoyu Wu
  • Lixing Li
Original Paper

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Maternal health Quantity–quality tradeoff One-Child policy 

JEL Classification

O15 J13 I10 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Seth Sanders, Christopher McKelvey, Peter Murrell, Ginger Jin, Judy Hellerstein, William Evans, John Iceland, Melissa Kearney, Hongbin Li, seminar participants at University of Maryland, U.S. Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies, 2006 CES Shanghai Conference, 2006 Far-Eastern Meeting of the Econometric Society at Beijing, and 2008 Five Star Economic Forum at Renmin University of China, and two anonymous referees for helpful comments. Financial support from the Ministry of Education, China (10YJC790206) is gratefully acknowledged.

References

  1. Almond D, Edlund L, Li H, Zhang J (2007) Long-term effects of the 1959–1961 famine: Mainland China and Hong Kong. NBER Working Paper No. 13384Google Scholar
  2. Angrist J, Evans W (1998) Children and their parents’ labor supply: evidence from exogenous variation in family size. Am Econ Rev 88(3):450–477Google Scholar
  3. Angrist J, Lavy V, Schlosser A (2006) New evidence on the causal link between the quantity and quality of children. MIT Working PaperGoogle Scholar
  4. Becker G (1960) An econometric analysis of fertility. In Becker G (ed) Demographic and economic change in developed countries. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  5. Becker G (1991) A treatise on the family. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  6. Becker G, Lewis G (1973) On the interaction between the quantity and quality of children. J Polit Econ 81(2):279–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Becker G, Tomes N (1976) Child endowments and the quantity and quality of children. J Polit Econ 84(4):143–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Behrman J, Pollak R, Taubman P (1989) Family resources, family size and access to financing for education. J Polit Econ 97(2):389–419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Black S, Devereux P, Salvanes K (2005) The more the merrier? The effect of family size and birth order on children’s education. Q J Econ 120(2):669–700Google Scholar
  10. Boerma T (1987) The magnitude of the maternal mortality problem in sub-Saharan Africa. Soc Sci Med 24(6):551–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bulte E, Heerink N, Zhang X (2011) China’s One-Child policy and “the mystery of missing women”: ethinic minorities and male-biased sex ratios. Oxf Bull Econ Stat 73(1):21–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chen Y, Li H (2009) Mother’s education and child health: is there a nurturing effect? J Health Econ 28(2):413–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chen Y, Zhou L (2007) The long-term health and economic consequences of the 1959–1961 famine in China. J Health Econ 26(4):659–681CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chen L, Gesche M, Ahmed S, Chowdhury A, Mosley W (1974) Maternal mortality in rural Bangladesh. Stud Fam Plann 5:334–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chopra J, Camacho J (1970) Maternal nutrition and family planning. Am J Clin Nutr 23:1043–1058Google Scholar
  16. Currie J, Madrian B (1999) Health, health insurance and the labor market. In Ashenfelter O, Card D (ed) Handbook of labor economics 3cGoogle Scholar
  17. Doherty J, Norton E, Veney J (2001) China’s One-Child policy: the economic choices and consequences faced by pregnant women. Soc Sci Med 52:745–761CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. EcKholm E, Newland K (1977) Too many children, too close together. War Hunger 11(4):6–7Google Scholar
  19. Gomes M (1984) Family size and education attainment in China. Popul Dev Rev 10(4):647–660CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Goux D, Maurin E (2005) The effect of overcrowded housing on children’s performance at school. J Public Econ 89(5–6):797–819CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Greenlaugh S (1986) Shifts in China’s population policy, 1984–1986: views from the central, provincial, and local levels. Popul Dev Rev 12(3):493–515Google Scholar
  22. Guo G, VanWey L (1999) Sibship size and intellectual development: is the relationship causal? Am Sociol Rev 64(2):169–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kessler D (1991) Birth order, family size and achievement: family structure and wage determination. J Labor Econ 9(4):413–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Li L, Wu X (2011) Gender of children, Bargaining power and intrahousehold resource allocation in China. J Hum Resour 46(2):295–316Google Scholar
  25. Li H, Zhang J (2006a) Fertility and parental labor supply: identification based on a unique population policy. Mimeo, The Chinese University of Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  26. Li H, Zhang J (2006b) Fines, limited liability and fertility. Mimeo, The Chinese University of Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  27. Li H, Zhang J (2007) Do high birth rates hamper economic growth? Rev Econ Stat 89(1):110–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Li H, Zhang J (2009) Testing the external effect of household behavior: the case of the demand for children. J Hum Resour 44(4):890–915Google Scholar
  29. Li H, Zhang J, Zhu Y (2007) The effect of the One-Child policy on fertility in China: identification based on the differences-in-differences. Mimeo, The Chinese University of Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  30. Li H, Zhang J, Zhu Y (2008) The quantity–quality tradeoff of children in a developing country: identification using Chinese twins. Demography 45(1):223–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. McElroy M, Yang D (2000) Carrots and sticks: fertility effects of China’s population policies. American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings 90(2):389–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Meng X, Qian N (2009) The long run impact of exposure to famine on survivors: evidence from China’s great famine. NBER Working Paper 14917Google Scholar
  33. Mu R, Zhang X (2008) Gender difference in the long-term impact of famine. IFPRI Discussion Paper 00760Google Scholar
  34. Park A, Rukumnnuaykit P (2004) Eat drink man woman: testing for gender bias in China using individual nutrient intake data. Working Paper, University of MichiganGoogle Scholar
  35. Prentice M, Whitehead G, Paul A (1981) Long term energy balance in child-bearing Gambian women. Am J Clin Nutr 34:2790–2799Google Scholar
  36. Qian N (2009) Quantity–quality and the one child policy: the positive effect of family size on school enrollment in China. NBER Working Paper 14973Google Scholar
  37. Rosenzweig M, Wolpin K (1980) Testing the quantity–quality fertility model: the use of twins as a natural experiment. Econometrica 48(1):227–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rosenzweig M, Zhang J (2009) Do population control policies induce more human capital investment? Twins, birthweight, and China’s “One Child” policy. Rev Econ Stud 76(3):1149–1174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Royston E, Armstrong S (1989) Preventing maternal deaths. World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  40. Schultz P, Zeng Y (1995) Fertility of rural China. Effects of local family planning and health programs. J Popul Econ 8(4):329–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Stafford F (1987) Women’s work, sibling competition and children’s school performance. Am Econ Rev 77(5):972–980Google Scholar
  42. Strauss J, Zhao Y, Park A, Smith J, Shen Y (2009) Socioeconomic gradients of health using the china health and retirement longitudinal study, pilot. Paper presented at the 2009 annual meeting of Population Association of AmericaGoogle Scholar
  43. Winikoff B (1983) The effects of birth spacing on child and maternal health. Stud Fam Plan 14(10):231–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zhang J, Spencer B (1992) Who signs China’s One-Child certificates, and why? J Popul Econ 5(3):203–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations