Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-2-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Public Policy Leadership

First Advisor

Weixing (Mark) Chen

Second Advisor

Joshua Howard

Third Advisor

Fei Lan

Relational Format



This thesis examines the impact of China’s family planning policies on women’s attitudes towards family culture and the implications on China today. The family planning policies began in the 1970s as an emergency measure intended to create a short-term voluntary small-family culture by decreasing fertility rates. My research, comprised primarily of primary and secondary qualitative sources, discusses the development and implementation of the policies, the economic reforms beginning in the 1980s, and their joint effects on fertility rates, sex ratio at birth, women’s liberation, and changes in family culture, particularly in rural areas. This study found that the family planning policies and economic changes exacerbated the decline in fertility rates and accelerated the change in cultural beliefs about the family and the role of women in society, resulting in continued low fertility rates and the acceptance of the small-family culture in both rural and urban areas. The lasting effects of these changes are threatening China’s socioeconomic future, thereby requiring action from the government. While it remains to be seen which policies the government will choose to pursue, it must consider the long-term effects and address not only the exceptionally low fertility rates, but also the problems arising from them, for instance, the 4:2:1 problem, leftover men, and the sex ratio imbalance.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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