China’s Low Fertility Rate from the Perspective of Gender and Development

Social Sciences in China, 2020

Vol. 41, No. 4, 2020


China’s Low Fertility Rate from the Perspective of Gender and Development



Ji Yingchun and Zheng Zhenzhen


Fertility and other demographic indicators do not simply follow the ups and downs of policy. In order to understand more objectively and accurately the degree of acceptance, impact and actual effect of the unconditional two-child policy (quanmian erhai zhengce)as well as the long-term trend of China’s fertility rate, we need to proceed from the institutional and cultural context of Chinese society. The complex social mechanisms behind the low fertility situation in China should be interpreted from the perspective of gender and development. Drawing on international theories and lessons learned from past experience, we find, from a gender and development perspective, that women’s workfamily conflict is the key to examining China’s low fertility rate; designing public policy with a gender perspective to promote the participation of government, society, business and multiple male and female actors is a social mechanism that alleviates women’s work-family conflict; and advocating the Marxist gender ideology of equality between men and women and abandoning traditional Confucian patriarchal and familial thinking are the ideological basis for alleviating women’s work-family conflict. In view of the dual identity of women as material producers and social reproducers, promoting the simultaneous development of gender equality in the public and private sectors and alleviating women’s work-family conflicts will make a positive contribution to maintaining a certain fertility rate and level of economic development.


Keywords: social gender, economic development, low fertility rate, unconditional two-child policy, work-family conflict