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Open Access Original article

Jobs and kids: female employment and fertility in China

Hai Fang1*, Karen N Eggleston2, John A Rizzo3 and Richard J Zeckhauser4

Author Affiliations

1 China Center for Health Development Studies, Health Science Center, Peking University, No.38 Xueyuan Road, Haidian District, P.O. Box 505, Beijing 100191, China

2 Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University, Stanford, USA

3 Department of Economics and Department of Preventive Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, USA

4 John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, USA

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IZA Journal of Labor & Development 2013, 2:12  doi:10.1186/2193-9020-2-12

Published: 9 December 2013


Data on 2,355 married women from the 2006 China Health and Nutrition Survey are used to study how female employment affects fertility in China. China has deep concerns with both population size and female employment, so the relationship between the two should be better understood. Causality flows in both directions; hence, we use a plausible instrumental variable to isolate the effect of employment on fertility. Female employment reduces a married woman’s preferred number of children by 0.35 on average and her actual number by 0.50. Ramifications for China’s one-child policy are discussed.

JEL codes

J13; J18; O15

Fertility; Female labor supply; Employment in China; Employment and fertility; One-child policy