Domestic Gender Equity and Fertility Outcome in China



In the past decade, the Chinese government has gradually abolished the one-child policy, and the universal two-child policy was formally implemented in 2016. However, after a short-lived surge in births, fertility rate continues to drop dramatically since 2018, despite the relaxation of the one-child policy. Among all the explaining theories, gender equity theory is one of the most popular theories to explain the continued low trend in fertility, which has seen husband’s contribution in domestic labor as an essential factor in increasing fertility rate. This study contributes to the literature by focusing on 1) the actual share of domestic work of the husband and 2) the congruences/incongruences of attitudes and behaviors in doing housework to examine the relationship between housework sharing and fertility outcome. Our findings show that: 1) when husbands’ take on housework responsibility reaches a certain level, the likelihood of having a second child would decrease; 2) wives who hold egalitarian perceptions regarding sharing of housework are less likely to have a second child when the distribution of housework is imbalanced, regardless of whether husbands or wives dominate it. The study points to the importance of the sociocultural context of using gender equity theory to explain fertility outcomes.


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 Forcesthe Journal of Marriage and Familythe Chinese Sociological Review, and Social Science Research.

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