Do Fertility Control Policies Affect Health in Old Age? Evidence from China's One-Child Experiment


  • We thank the anonymous referees for Health Economics for their comments. We also thank Wenshu Gao, David Johnston, Vinod Mishra, Martin Ravallion and participants at the Econometric Society World Congress in Shanghai; the Australasian Development Economics Workshop at the University of Western Sydney; the Development Workshop at Monash University and seminar participants at Deakin University, University of Wollongong and the Centre for Health Economics at Monash University for helpful assistance, comments and suggestions.


How do fertility control policies contribute to the welfare of women, and their husbands, particularly as they get older? We consider whether the reduction in fertility resulting from population control policies has had any effect on the health of elderly parents in China. In particular, we examine the influence of this fertility decline, experienced due to China's one-child policy, on several measures of the health of parents in middle and old age. Overall, our results suggest that having fewer children has a positive effect on self-reported parental health but generally no effect on other measures of health. The results also suggest that upstream financial transfers have a positive effect on several measures of parental health. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.