China’s two-child is policy widening the gender gap: UBC study


Less marital power means less ‘fertility autonomy’, researchers say

Having two children can exacerbate gender inequality for a woman in China, according to a new international study out of UBC.

After the government in China ditched the one-child policy to address an aging population, an estimated 90 million women were eligible to have a second child since rolling out the universal two-child policy.

But motherhood is a major contributor to the gender pay gap in urban China, so this has large-scale implications, said the study’s lead author and UBC associate professor of sociology, Yue Qian.

Women with less marital power — defined by income, resources and education — had what researchers call lower “fertility autonomy”. They were more likely to succumb to pressure to have a second child whether they wanted to or not.

At a disadvantaged status in the labour market, these women face reduced access to resources. Having fewer resources than their spouses limit womens bargaining power, ability to push for equality in the family, and ability to stop childbearing — all of which may jeopardize their careers, Qian added.

In contrast, “no matter the pressure, women with more marital power did not budge for a second birth,” Qian said, adding employment rates and incomes for mothers still lag far behind those of fathers.

Using data from a 2016 Chinese national survey, researchers tested 1124 women who already had a child and preferred no more. By self-reporting, women indicated who had more power in home: the husband or the wife.

“It’s a subjective measure but proven to be a good indicator,” Qian said, whose co-author was Yongai Jin, sociology professor at Renmin University of China.

“In a sense, China’s two-child policy is a vicious circle in terms of gender inequality,” Qian said, noting the policy was implemented with a unique social and political context. Unlike Canada where there are public policies in place to encourage fertility, in China, there are no longer government funded benefits such as childcare subsidies or paid leave.

“China wants to increase fertility but does not implement public policies to facilitate work-family balance,” Qian said. “We hope to urge government policy attention to gender equality issues in the era of a two-child policy.”


By            :               Melanie Green

Date         :               February 27, 2018

Source     :               Metro

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