China's Demographic realties

cherish           Population growth | Mortality | Fertility

"Successive historic Chinese states developed a variety of institutions to combat poor harvests, including an empire-wide system of granaries that annually redistributed up to 5 percent of the national grain supply during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries."


p. 45. One Quarter of Humanity, James Z. Lee and Wang Feng, Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press, 1999.




China's population growth from before the common era until now.


"During the last 300 years the world population has increased ten fold."


In 1700 world population was less than 700 million; today it stands at over 6 billion." Now actually over 7 Billion.


"This dramatic increase is the gradual result of a decline in mortality . . .


"preliminary research has reconstructed  the population history of virtually all the 1.7 billion Chinese alive since 1950 and .5 million of the 3 billion Chinese  alive in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries."

pp. 5-6.

"one-fifth of the world population"

Chinese rice production

Land and water use in China dedicated to growing rice


"Mortality is the first such legacy"


"Excess female infant and child mortality produced the second distinctive feature of the Chinese demographic system: a gender unbalanced marriage market.


"The shortage of marriageable females was exacerbated by the practice of polygyny."

pp. 7-8.

In the 18th and 19th centuries:


           60 percent Europe              females 15-50 were married.


           90 percent China                females 15-50 were married.

p. 8.

TMFR – Total marital fertility rate

   Europe                       China                                               

       7.5 - 9                                6         children in a completed family.


"This low marital fertility is one of the most distinctive features of the Chinese demographic system."


Population growth | Mortality | Fertility



Note that fertility declined faster in China than in the west

p. 8

fertility decline

Years Total Fertility Rate

1970        TFR           6

1995        TFR           2

pp. 8


"In China the process has largely been continuous,. . . .The Chinese demographic transition reflects the expansion of the collective decision-making process form the family to the state."


"demographic transition in China was the product of several behavioral changes stemming from a long tradition of demographic planning. For Chinese, planning demographic events has  always been an important part of life."

pp. 9-10.


"In China, demographic decisions are never individual."

p. 10


The most conspicuous example of the collective nature (character) of Chinese demographic decision-making is the state family planning program implemented during the past two decades. In the name of common collective good, the Chinese government has imposed a series of far-reaching economic and political constraints on individual demographic behavior.


This means one billion fewer Chinese than would have happened by 2030 without such an intervention.


p. 11

"deliberate mortality through sex-selective infanticide and neglect." A demographic characteristic of traditional Chines responses to economic or famine conditions.


"marital restraint' was also important" reducing the number of children in families.

"The preventive check was more important." in curbing population growth.

p. 12.


Therefore the western Malthusian-influenced model of population development is not particularly useful for characterizing Chinese population decline's ethnic peculiarities at the familial and collective levels.

Twenty years ago: 

In 1991, China's Total Fertility Rate was 2.3 compared to Hong Kong, 1.2, and Macao at 2.1. Also Taiwan was 1.7, and Singapore at 1.8.


Per capita income was:

China ................................... $ 360

Hong Kong .....................$ 10,320


Morphed presentation map

Population Policy,

"The People's Republic of China has instituted the most famous program of fertility control, although the one child policy does not actually explain low fertility in that country."

"Fertility began to drop steeply in China as early as the mid-1960s, long before the one-child policy was established in 1979."

" . . . a significant restructuring of family and gender roles, particularly among younger people."

"Thus, the motivation  for fertility limitation had been growing, especially within the Han majority, for some time before the government moved in the direction of more coercive measures."

p. 189.

" . . . in China,  the official statistics indicate that fertility is kept low by the use of the IUD until the family is completed, at which time voluntary surgical contraception is the norm."

". . . the success of that policy will influence world growth rates for the foreseeable future."

p. 190.

"At the same time, as the case of China shows, a decline in fertility can be wrapped around  a concomitant decline in mortality; China's leaders clearly understood that 'barefoot doctors were the indispensable allies of intrauterine devices."

p. 191.


• This nation has a large number of people of Chinese extraction and descent; there is some relevance to understanding Chinese population changes in the last century.

"Singapore's fertility decline has somewhat different roots. Singapore is a city-state that used to be part of Malaysia, and , and more than three fourths of its 2.5 million inhabitants are ethnic Chinese."

Government promotion of "Two is enough" policies with costly penalties, labor disincentives and tax liabilities on large families, "The impact on fertility was dramatic. . . ."

4.5 TFR in 1966 fell

1.4 TFR in 1988

"fertility is too low, " is the post 1986 ruling government view.

p. 189.

"How to influence Fertility," John R Weeks. pp. 189-190.

in Elephants  in the Volkswagen: Facing Tough Questions About Our Overcrowded Country, Lindsay Grant.

Population growth | Mortality | China's Fertility



Demographic momentum | World Fertility | Global Population

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The World at Seven Billion,

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