Famine, Fertility and Fortune in China

51 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2009

See all articles by Xinzheng Shi

Xinzheng Shi

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management

Date Written: January 2008

Abstract

In this paper, I investigate the long-term effects of China's Great Famine of 1959-1961 in the context of selective fertility, exploiting the interaction of cohort variation in exposure to the famine and geographic variation in the famine's severity. Using China's 2000 population census data and after controlling for fertility selection due to the famine, I find that women exposed to the famine in the first year of life completed fewer years of schooling, had a lower probability of completing high school, worked fewer days per week, and lived in houses with fewer rooms and less housing area per capita. I do not find significant effects of the famine on men. I also do not find significant effects of experiencing famine in utero or in the second year. In addition, I find that, if positive fertility selection in the famine is not controlled for, the negative effects become weaker. Finally, I provide suggestive evidence showing the existence of negative fertility selection immediately after the famine.

Keywords: education, labor supply, wealth, selective fertility, famine, China

JEL Classification: I21, J13, J22, O12, O15, Q54

Suggested Citation

Shi, Xinzheng, Famine, Fertility and Fortune in China (January 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1474072 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1474072

Xinzheng Shi (Contact Author)

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

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