Sex Preference, Fertility, and Family Planning in China

  • Fred Arnold
  • Liu Zhaoxiang
Part of the The Plenum Series on Demographic Methods and Population Analysis book series (PSDE)


A pronounced preference of parents to have male children has been noted in a number of countries, although a desire for a balanced number of sons and daughters is also common (Williamson 1976; Arnold and Kuo 1984). Son preference is particularly prevalent in countries with strong Confucian traditions (Cleland, Verral, and Vaessen 1983; Cho, Arnold, and Kwon 1982; Freedman and Coombs, 1974). The extent of son preference has been the subject of considerable discussion and debate recently in China. It has been argued that the successful implementation of the one-child family policy has been hampered by lingering son preference, particularly in rural areas. For this reason, the Chinese government has undertaken measures to reduce the impact of son preference. As an example of educational efforts, family planning posters nearly always portray the only child in a one-child family as a daughter, in an attempt to legitimize the idea of a family without a son in the minds of the populace.


Family Planning Family Planning Program Fertility Survey World Fertility Survey State Statistical Bureau 
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    This result does not include Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, which had very few one-child certificate holders, none of whom had gone on to have a second child.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    All of the analyses in this section were also carried out for currently married, fecund, nonmenopausal women under age 50, since these are the women at risk of becoming pregnant. These results are almost identical with the findings for all married women under age 50 (not shown), since few women in this age group with one child have reached menopause or are infecund. Freedman et al. (1986) suggest that the contraceptive prevalence rates for the survey were too high in some provinces, perhaps because women who had discontinued contraception still reported that they were current contraceptive users at the time of the survey. However, this fact should not affect our results, since there is no reason to believe that the degree of overestimation would be different for women with different family compositions.Google Scholar


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred Arnold
  • Liu Zhaoxiang

There are no affiliations available

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