The One-Child Policy and Intergenerational Mobility in China

We examine whether and how the world’s largest population planning program, the One-Child Policy, has shaped intergenerational mobility in China. Using a dataset with 2,096,798 childparent(s) pairs combined from various rounds of ten separate national household surveys, we leverage exogenous variation in fine rates imposed for One-Child Policy violations across provinces to study causal impacts of the One-Child Policy on intergenerational persistence. Using a continuous difference-in-differences approach, we find that for cohorts born between 1980 and 1996, the One-Child Policy reduced persistence in intergenerational income, education, and social class, comparing to those born prior to 1979. We estimate that the overall effect of the One-Child Policy fines was to reduce persistence in intergenerational income, education, and social class by 28.1%, 48.7%, and 24.8%, respectively. Analyzing mechanisms, we find that the One-Child Policy boosted China’s intergenerational mobility by diminishing elite family heirship, concentrating resources for lower-income families, and decreasing returns to education. The One-Child Policy has brought about a significant socioeconomic reshuffle that has reshaped the role of China’s longstanding class solidification.

That is from a recent paper by Shanthi Manian, Qi Zhang, and Bin Zhao.  Via Linghui Han.  Might some similar results be true for any other low-fertility societies?  Or are the environments too disparate?


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