Socio-economic factors impacting fertility preferences and fertility behaviours in Shanghai
Abstract: ABSTRACT Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the current factors affecting fertility preference and fertility behaviour in Shanghai among the first single-child generation who are now entering into their childbearing years. In order to gain a more clear understanding of fertility preference and fertility behaviour in Shanghai the following areas were explored in an attempt to discover the institutional/policy variables and the socio-economic variables that are impacting fertility preference and fertility behaviour: the number of children preferred by the participants, the actual number of children had or planned to have by the participants, the age or time of having a first child, the factors affecting a participant’s fertility preference and fertility behaviour, and the desired future direction of the family planning policy. Considering that single-child couples are now allowed to have two children in Shanghai, discovering the number of children preferred by a couple and the actual fertility behaviour are initial indicators of the affect the family planning policy has had on fertility preference and fertility behaviour. The age or timing of having a first child is an indicator of the impact of new socio-economic opportunities that may be affecting an individual’s fertility preference and fertility behaviour. Discovering the factors that are affecting the participant’s fertility preference and fertility behaviour will bring to light the socio-economic and cultural variables that may be impacting fertility within Shanghai. Method: Ethnographically grounded. In-depth, face-to-face interviews were conducted while using semi-structured questions. The questions focused on the following areas in an attempt to discover the institutional/policy variables and the socio-economic variables that are impacting fertility preference: the number of children preferred by the participants, the age or time of having a first child, the factors affecting a participant’s fertility preference, and the desired future direction of the family planning policy. Participants were recruited through the use of two strategies; first, a convenience sampling method, and second, a snowball strategy. These methods were decided to be the most effective due to the sensitivity of some of the topics discussed and the cultural tendency to not want to openly discuss some political topics, particularly with strangers. These strategies allowed me to utilize my personal relationships as sources for finding participants and being referred to other potential participants. The selection requirements of potential participants included: (1) those who identify themselves as Shanghainese or having lived in Shanghai for at least five years. (2) A second group was formed as a comparison group; the majority of people in this group were not Shanghainese but had been living in Shanghai for a minimum of two years. (3) Those that have stake-holds in Shanghai either through a business operation that supports their livelihood, through birth or through family ties; (4) those who are of the targeted generation of 24-35 years old. Results: Socio-economic development has brought opportunity, responsibility and pressure. All participants discussed money, time and filial piety as being the main factor for deciding how many children to have. The re-occurring financial impacting factor discussed by all male participants was the responsibility of buying a home prior to marriage. The re-occurring financial impacting factor discussed by all male and female participants was the responsibility of filial piety, taking care of their parents. There was a gendered response when discussing the issue of time, as more women than men discussed a concern for having enough time for career development, time for one’s self and child care time if they had more than one child. Conclusion: Socio-economic factors have replaced the institutional/policy factors in regards to their affect of fertility preference and fertility behaviour. In order for socio-economic development to continue there needs to be an increased focus on creating social safety nets that will assist the single-child generation in balancing there new responsibilities. Fertility preferences and fertility behaviours in the midst of the ever progressing socio-economic development that is taking urban areas in China by storm are of particular interest when considering the potential course of future social and economic development. Within the results there is evidence that institutional/policy factors are no longer the dominating factors that are impacting the participants’ fertility preferences and fertility behaviours. Within urban areas in China, particularly Shanghai, the fact that fertility rates have dropped below the level of re-generation is causing alarm for social scientist, demographers and population policy officials. As Shanghai is the most progressive and developed city in Shanghai, if this city is not able to maintain its quality population in the face of development, concern needs to be raised regarding the future development of the rest of the country.
AT THIS PAGE YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE ESSAY. (follow the link to the next page)