Talk - Policy-induced Fertility Suppression and Marital Satisfaction: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in China
2:30pm - 3:30pm
Room 3301 (Lift 2 or Lifts 17-18), 3/F Academic Building

Having children is widely regarded as one of the most important benefits and purposes of marriage, particularly in societies that uphold traditional family values. Consequently, the suppression of fertility may have far-reaching implications on marital life that transcend childbearing itself. While previous studies have examined the impact of health-induced fertility suppression, there is a gap in understanding how policy-induced fertility restrictions affect marital satisfaction. This study employs a nationally representative sample to examine whether Chinese couples’ marital satisfaction improves when the potential marital utility on fertility is enhanced following the transition from the one-child to the universal two-child policy in China. Using a difference-in-differences design, the results show that men who desire multiple children experience increased marital satisfaction after the policy change. Conversely, the same is not observed for women. Our study provides compelling evidence that the increase in marital satisfaction for husbands is driven by the improved evaluation of marital fertility value, rather than any other unintended policy effects. We also find that the policy-induced satisfaction improvement is more pronounced among men with either more severely constrained or deeply ingrained fertility desires. The study further discusses the broad impact of fertility policy on family life, the gender-imbalanced perception of this policy shift, and its theoretical and policy implications.

Room 3301 (Lift 2 or Lifts 17-18), 3/F Academic Building
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Yuying Tong received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is currently a Professor of Sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research areas crosscut social demography, migration and immigration, family and life course, gender, and population health/well-being. She is the co-director of the Center for Chinese Family Studies (CCFS) at the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Yuying Tong has published widely in leading journals in her field of study. She has also served as an editorial board member of leading sociology and family studies journals, such as Social Forces, the Journal of Marriage and Family, the Chinese Sociological Review, and Social Science Research.

Host: Prof Yifan SHEN, Assistant Professor, Division of Social Science, HKUST

Division of Social Science