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Marital-Status Discrimination Reduces Fertility in China

Summary:
Building on recent posts by Dean Baker in his Beat the Press Blog (responding to NYT and Washington Post here and Ross Douthat here) that debunk the idea that there is a “demographic crisis” in China, there’s also an important family justice aspect to fertility in China.  Although Douthat attributes China’s fertility rate (1.6 births ...

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Building on recent posts by Dean Baker in his Beat the Press Blog (responding to NYT and Washington Post here and Ross Douthat here) that debunk the idea that there is a “demographic crisis” in China, there’s also an important family justice aspect to fertility in China. 

Although Douthat attributes China’s fertility rate (1.6 births per woman) to “cruel policy choices,” particularly the one-child policy, he doesn’t mention that these choices include widespread discrimination against unmarried mothers. As NPR recently reported, unmarried parents in China are often “stuck in a legal gray zone where they are unable to access basic public services for themselves and their children.” In many Chinese provinces, unmarried mothers have to pay fines for having a child, and/or face barriers to “hukou, or household registration, akin to a social security number allowing them to go to school and access services such as health care.” Beyond these legal barriers and penalties, unmarried mothers face severe social stigma in China. 

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