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Has China's one-child policy benefited women?

Women’s educational attainment has increased tremendously and even exceeded men’s all over the world in the late 20th century. 

Now, a new review published in  Contemporary Economic Policy concludes that China’s One-Child Policy had a beneficial effect on women’s education and explains about half of the increase in educational attainment for women born between 1960–1980. 

The One-Child Policy was formally conceived in 1979 and rapidly established across the country in 1980. It has been the most restrictive policy adopted across the globe, with enforcement through monetary penalties on above‐quota birth, denial of public service, required abortion of subsequent pregnancy, and even sterilisation.  It also encouraged delay in having a child. 

In China, the One-Child Policy was the biggest social movement that fundamentally changed the lives and family structure of the entire generation born in the 1960s. Analyses in the review indicate that reductions in fertility expectations in China increased women’s educational attainment and helped to close the gender education gap.

The author of the study, Dr Xuan Jiang, of The Ohio State University, says:

“Women anticipated having fewer children, which may have delayed their entry into parenthood and even delayed the decision to get married, which allowed them to get more education.” 


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