The Transformation of China's Birth Control Policy: An Institutional Perspective

Yong Cai, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

With its controversial effects on Chinese fertility and Chinese society, China’s 30-year long one-child policy has created an indisputable heavy institutional footprint: a top-down bureaucratic apparatus with over 300,000 on its payroll. Any discussion on changing China’s birth control policy will have to answer two critical institutional questions: what to do with the birth control apparatus and how will the birthing control apparatus respond to such a change? Changing China’s birth control policy therefore becomes not only a social policy decision, but also a political decision. Using data collected from a survey of birth control officials in four provinces, this paper takes an institutional perspective to assess Chinese birth control officials’ understanding of the current population and birth control situation, to evaluate their reactions to the proposed policy change, and to provide suggestions on how to devise a smooth transition out of the one-child policy.

Presented in Session 37: China’s One Child Policy after 30 years – Time for a Change?