Fertility intention, son preference, and second childbirth: survey findings from Shaanxi province of China Articles uri icon

publication date

  • February 2016

start page

  • 935

end page

  • 953


  • 3


  • 125

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0303-8300

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-0921


  • China is characterized by a low fertility intention, a strong preference for sons, as well as a stringent birth control policy. In this study, we used data from a Fertility Intention and Behavior Survey of 2101 questionnaires conducted in 2013 in Shaanxi Province of northwestern China, and event history analysis methods to examine the effect of fertility intention and preference for sons on the probability of having a second child. The results not only validate the correlation of fertility intention with having a second child empirically, even in the low fertility intention and stringent birth control context of China, but also show that women with a preference for sons were less likely to have a second child. Women with son preference turn to sex-selective abortion to ensure that their first child is a son, thus reducing the likelihood of a second child and decreasing the fertility rate. Our findings also shed light on China's potential fertility policy adjustment.


  • fertility intention; intended number of children; son preference; event history analysis; cox proportional hazard model; below replacement fertility; future prospects; 2010 census; behavior; migration; policies; birth; end