The New Trends of Fertility Pattern after China''s Population Policy Change: An Analysis Based on Population Dynamics Monitoring System

Cuiling Zhang, Vienna Institute of Demography
Hongyan Liu, China Population and Development Research Center
Qiang Tong, National Open University of China
Xuying Zhang, China Population and Development Research Center

This study brings new information about the fertility behavior of China based on 120-county population dynamics monitoring system data to better understand the effect of population policy and shed lights on the future. Data shows the annual births increase since 2011 (1.1 million) to 2012 (1.22 million), then followed by a decrease to about 1 million in 2016. The share of first birth order continuously deceased with the share of second birth increased for the same period. The sex ratio at birth also show a downward trend in recent year, closing to natural level. Birth timing keep a universal postponed trend regardless women’s residence, education, birth order and ethnic background. However, the share of giving first birth below 25, share of having second birth below 30s, the second birth interval short than four years are all declined. Deeply analysis the characteristics of sub-group of different birth order is quite needed.

The New Trends ofFertility Pattern after China''s Population Policy Change: an Analysis Based onPopulation Dynamics Monitoring System


China continues being the country for whichfertility data and trends remain uncertain and debated. The officialpublications, including the statistical Yearbook for China, continue reportingperiod Total Fertility Rate(TFR) and Age Specific Fertility Rate( ASFR) datathat jump strongly from one year to the next (e.g., the jump from 1.26 to 1.05between 2014 and 2015) and that reach for some years very implausible lowlevels (TFR of 1.05 in 2015).

Since 2013, China''s population policy has undergonegreat changes as the transition from One-Child Policy to a Selective Two-childpolicy and Universal two -Child policy. The research and discussion on the effectof population policy adjustment on the trends of fertility is still verylimited due to data accessibility. A new analysis of fertility behavior providesadditional references to understand the fertility transition of China.

Dataand method

The data used herein are derived from the 2016yearly reported data of the 121-county population monitoring system of China. Regularindexes are computed to explore the trends and patterns of fertility of Chinain recent six years. The amount of births, sex ratio at birth, the average,distribution of average birth age by birth order and second birth interval areused to look at the general trend and sub-group differentials.

Preliminary Results

General feature ofannual births

Theannual births increase since 2011 (1.1 million) to 2012 (1.22 million), thenfollowed by a decrease to about 1 million in 2016. The share of first birth continuouslydeceased with the share of second birth increased during the same period. The risingshare of second birth shows the effect of new population policy. In recentyears, sex ratio at birth (SRB)also show a downward trend in recent year,closing to natural level.

Table 1: Total births, sex ratio at birth and the paritydistribution in 2011-2016 (person, %)




1st birth

2nd birth

3rd and above







































Age of first childbearing

Havingfirst birth is universally postponed whatever the education level, theresidence and the ethnic group of women is. The arithmetic mean birth age offirst birth raised from 24.78 in 2011 to 26.83 in 2016. It increased by 2.05 yearssince 2011; for urban and rural is 1.16 and 1.8 years respectively. For the Hanand ethnic minorities is 1.9 years and 2.05 years respectively.

1)       The increase forwomen with primary school education, junior high school, high school and collegelevel is 1.95 years, 1.8 years, 1.3 years and 0.6 years.

2)       The proportion ofwomen who had their first child under after 25 increased gradually. It closesto 70% in 2016. This index for Junior high school women and primary school educatedwomen reduce to 40% in 2016 from 70% in 2011, from 65% in 2011 to 34% in 2016respectively. In 2016, more than 27% of women with college education give firstbirth after their thirties.


Age of secondchildbearing

Thegap of average of second childbearing age between Han and ethnic minorities isnarrowing from 1 years to 0.5 year. Except women with primary education, womenwith higher education have witnessed postponed for second birth, 1 year forjunior high school women, 1.5 years for women with high school education, 1.4years for college-educated women. The gap of childbearing age for second birthbetween urban and rural expanded from 2.5 years in 2011 to 3.6 years in 2016.

Theproportion of women having second birth below 30 years decreased from 62.8% in2011 to 54.08% in 2016. The proportion of women who had their second childwithin 30-34 increased from 25.72% in 2011 to 31.66 % in 2016. Nearly half of womengive their second birth in 2016 are over their thirties.

Thesecond child birth age is much younger for rural women than urban. More than60% of rural women¡¯s second birth is before their thirties while 70% of urban women¡¯sis after their thirties in 2016.




Second Birth interval

Theaverage second birth interval raised slowly after most provinces terminated thelocal birth spacing regulations. The proportion of less than 4 years reducedwhile the proportion of 4-8 years and more than 8 years the proportion show aslight increase.

Theaverage of second birth interval with first birth as a boy is much longer thanthat for first child as a girl with one year difference. The gap of average secondbirth interval between women in urban and rural area stables at 1.5 years.


Presented in Session 1206: Fertility