DP17973 Spillovers in Childbearing Decisions and Fertility Transitions: Evidence from China
This article uses China’s family planning policies to quantify and explain spillovers in fertility decisions. We test whether ethnic minorities decreased their fertility in response to the policies, although only the majority ethnic group, the Han Chinese, were subject to birth quotas. We exploit the policy rollout and variation in pre-policy age-specific fertility levels to construct a measure of the negative shock to Han fertility. Combining this measure with variation in the local share of Han, we estimate that a woman gives birth to 0.63 fewer children if the average completed fertility among her peers is exogenously reduced by one child. The fertility response of minorities is driven by cultural proximity with the Han and by higher educational investments, suggesting that spillovers operate through both social and economic channels. These results provide evidence that social multipliers can accelerate fertility transitions.