Evaluating China's Birth Control Policies: A Synthetic Control Approach

Yuan Cheng, Fudan University
Stuart Gietel-Basten, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Xuehui Han, Asian Development Bank

There is great debate surrounding the demographic impact of China’s population control policies and, in particular, the one-birth restrictions which have only recently ended. We apply a transparent statistical method to explore the consequences for fertility and total population size in a ‘synthetic China’ not subject to the two major population control policies implemented in the 1970s. We find that while the less restrictive ‘later-longer-fewer’ policy played a critical role in driving down fertility in the 1970s, the role of the ‘one-child policy’ and its predecessors was only modest. Had China continued with its policies as implemented in the 1970s and followed a standard development trajectory, it is likely that the path of fertility transition and total population growth would have been very similar to that seen over the past three decades.

Presented in Poster Session 3