Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Hans-Peter Kohler


China has witnessed profound socioeconomic changes over the past four decades. This dissertation is comprised of three papers that investigate the demographic, social, and economic determinants of fertility trends in China. In Chapter 1, I discuss how birth control policies, which have been implemented since 1980, are related to Chinese women’s timing of giving first birth during a period with substantial socioeconomic development. The results suggest that such birth control policies still influence women’s childbearing behavior, even after controlling for the urban/rural distinction and provincial variation; however, this influence has diminished over time. In Chapter 2, I examine the relationship between different motherhood stages and urban women’s economic positions in the labor market between 1991 and 2011, and how this relationship has changed with the development of local economies. The analysis shows that very young children have an inhibiting effect on mothers’ labor force activities, and this effect is exaggerated with the development of local economies. On the other hand, women’s income is positively correlated with the presence of school-aged children, but this positive relationship is eroded with local economic development. In Chapter 3, I propose that the legacies from state socialism, the reduction in educational gender inequality, and the marketization process lead to a modern-traditional mosaic that shapes a curvilinear relationship between gender-role ideology and fertility intentions in China. Capitalizing on three waves of data from the Chinese General Social Survey, I empirically explore the relationship between women’s fertility intentions of having two or more children and different gender-role attitudes by using structural equation modeling. The results suggest that both the ‘modern’ (with more egalitarian gender-role ideology) and ‘traditional’ (with less egalitarian gender-role ideology) women show higher fertility intentions.