Jiajian Chen

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This study is an attempt to understand how Chinese women carried out China's fertility decline with an unprecedented speed since the mid-1970s. Based on China's large-scale In-Depth Fertility Surveys in Shaanxi (1985) and Guangdong (1987), this study tries to explain the fertility revolution with a dynamic theoretical framework which concerns not only the socio-political institutional impact on Chinese women's compliance with the birth control policy from the top down but also the effect of a supposedly all-embracing individual environment which includes socio-economic foundations and cultural "mentality" from the bottom up. Considering such a two-way interactive dynamic, a wait-for-change strategy analysis is developed to examine the spacing pattern of contraceptive use in the birth interval. The present study has characterized patterns of wait-for-change strategy fertility behaviour among Chinese couples in Shaanxi and Guangdong who were exposed to the risk of having out-of-quota births during the wan xi shao (later (marriage), longer (intervals between births), fewer (children)) and one-child-family national birth control campaigns, respectively. The findings reveal that Chinese couples were largely willing to comply with the birth control policy by using contraception to space birth at lower parity regardless of differences in educational level, age at marriage, and gender composition of children. However, as they arrived at the contraceptive stage, the situation changed. Generally, the socio-economic factors, gender composition of children, and age at marriage do have significant effect on women's waiting time for parity change. These findings indicate that socio-economic and son preference cultural effects from the bottom up on Chinese women's fertility behaviour were indeed profound and enduring, despite powerful constraints of political institutional settings from the top down.



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