01 April 2014

Comparison of birth rate between urban and rural in China

D writes:*

Generally speaking, urban areas hold more resources than rural parts; nevertheless, the birth rate in cities is much lower than in village throughout China. In rural areas, each family usually has five children on average. The reason behind the high birth rate can be simplified as traditional culture and hankering for a wealthy life. Some underdeveloped areas still stubbornly prefer males than females. Thus, they keep breeding until they get boys or having more boys which leads to the second reason: better life. Chinese farmers live on ploughs, more males means more laborers, more outputs and more money. The problem is, the resources, the lands are limited; uncontrolled increasing of people actually decreases the marginal product per workers. And some families even don’t have enough resources to bring up more children. The more children they breed, the poorer they will be, and then they want more children to change the situation, which is a vicious circle. Comparing with cities, people get more land, clean water, but low birth rate. Mostly, they gather all the resources to raise a single child, providing best living condition, and best education. The best social resources actually feed small amount of people. In fact, these children will live better than the big families. The rich people will more likely get richer.

Bottom Line: I’m not saying children born in cities are better or smarter than children who born in rural areas. Assuming they have the same resources, rural families will try to maximize the quantity of children; rather, urban families try to maximize the quality. How they allocate the resources is different.

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.


  1. I think problem behind this is that, the more children they breed, it's more likely that one or some of the children will have a chance to live better life, and may be help the whole family afterwards. What I am saying is that the possibility is higher.

  2. This is an interesting idea, and it's also true in China. Chinese people believe that elder children are like parents to their younger brothers. So some of them need to work instead of studying to support their families. Therefore, their younger brothers can have better and easier lives.

  3. Or you can put it in another way. In a city you are like in a prison. The state mandates how many hours you work (a single standard for working hours by law, you cannot opt easily to work 6 hours instead of 8). The school mandates when you wake up for 50 years (25 years you are in kindergarten+school, 25 years you need to wake up for your chidren), even if you are jobless. The state forces you to don't have a yard as those in the villages, probably even parking a car is a problem. The state mandates how many vacation days you have in the city, whereby in the villages there is a semi-vacation for 5 months (late autumn to early spring). So, people don't want to prolong their waking-up sentence with 25 years, and they don't want to breed prisoners.


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