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China's Below-Replacement Fertility: Recent Trends and Future Prospects

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Between 1970 and 1990, China experiencoed a rapid and sharp fertility decline—from total fertility rates of approximately six births to two. The degree to which Chinese fertility has continued to fall after 1990 is controversial. We use survey data from the 1997 National Population and Reproductive Health Survey and from the 2001 Reproductive Health and Family Planning Survey to document recent trends in Chinese fertility. Our estimates provide further evidence that China's fertility is well below-replacement level at the turn of the twenty-first century—with TFR levels of approximately 1.5 children per woman. Trends in parity-specific cohort fertility by age also suggest below replacement completed fertility for cohorts still in the childbearing years. In the article's second section, we identify key components of low period fertility in order to frame our discussion of two questions: 1) in what ways is Chinese low fertility different from/similar to that in other low-fertility countries? And 2) what are the likely future trends in Chinese fertility?
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Sociology and Norb F. Schaefer Professor of International Studies, Duke University. 2: Professor of Demography, Peking University. 3: Assistant Professor of Sociology, School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University.

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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