This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Is China's Birth Rate Even Lower Than We Thought?

A few days ago I noted that the fertility rate in South Korea may have dropped to less than one child per woman. A paper just out by Stuart Gietel-Basten and associates has results from China's 2015 1% mini-census that suggests similarly very low levels of fertility--although probably not any lower than in South Korea.
In this paper, we produced a simple analysis of the 2015 mini-census of China without any statistical manipulation. Given the recent decision by the National Bureau of Statistics to cease publishing age-specific fertility rates, this data source represents one of the few means to calculate national and disaggregated measures of fertility in contemporary China. Our exercise found a national TFR of just above one, and very low TFRs in both urban and rural areas, and especially among migrant women. Our analysis of the contribution of changing trends in marriage lends credence to the idea that the postponement effect is being strongly felt in China.
The authors are careful to note that these results are tentative. The intercensal mini-census covered about 14 million people, so the sample is very large numerically, but census data are not necessarily as precise as information from vital statistics registration systems. Nonetheless, the results are consistent with various other sources, as the authors note. Although the results come from a date just prior to the government's lifting of the one-child policy, it seems pretty clear that China's road back to replacement-level fertility will probably be a long one.

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