Volume 41 - Article 47 | Pages 1315–1346 Editor's Choice

Parental childcare support, sibship status and mothers’ second-child plans in urban China

By Menghan Zhao, Yang Zhang

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Date received:19 Jan 2019
Date published:29 Nov 2019
Word count:7865
Keywords:China, second child, two-children policy, urban areas


Background: Most previous research on intergenerational impacts on childbearing behaviors has overlooked the interrelation between having siblings and the availability of childcare assistance provided by grandparents.

Objective: This study examines how the siblings of young couples dilute the resources of grandparental childcare assistance and thus influence a mother’s plans to have a second child in urban China.

Methods: We use data from the survey on Fertility Decision-Making Processes in Chinese Families conducted in 2016 and focus on the subsample of mothers who have only one child and live in urban areas.

Results: The husband’s parents are less likely to take care of grandchildren if the husband has male siblings, while the probability will be higher if the wife has male siblings. The chance of receiving childcare support from the wife’s parents is also associated with the sibship status of both wife and husband. The results suggest that the decision regarding primary childcare providers might be made collectively within extended families. Under the two-child policy, childcare support from parents or in-laws in raising the first child increases the probability of a mother planning a second child. Furthermore, the positive effect of childcare support from the husband’s parents is lessened if the husband has siblings.

Contribution: This article tests the resource-dilution model in adulthood by examining the association between grandparental childcare assistance and young couples’ sibship status. Siblings may compete for grandparental childcare support and thus reduce the positive influence of grandparental childcare assistance on a mother’s plans for another child.

Author's Affiliation

Menghan Zhao - Renmin University of China, China [Email]
Yang Zhang - University of Michigan, United States of America [Email]

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