Jun 03, 2021 07:19 PM

Blog: Less Than 10% of Men, Women in China Want a Third Child, Survey Shows

China has announced the introduction of a three-child policy that permits a married couple to have up to three children.

When the National Bureau of Statistics announced the data from the latest national population census, the fertility rate was 1.3, compared to the expected level of 1.8 under the current “two-child policy.”

That is to say, each couple ideally should have 1.8 children on average, a figure that China aims for, but the new data does not show that a large number of families might want to have three children.

To assess the demographic characteristics of people likely to have three children, we used the 2018 China Family Panel Studies survey to do a preliminary analysis of groups of people aged 18 to 49 with three-child intentions.


Among 18 to 49-year-olds, the proportion of both men and women willing to have a third child was less than 10% in 2018, made up of 9.23% of men and 8.32% of women. This shows that there was a consensus among both men and women about three-child expectations.


In terms of age distribution, the percentage in each age group wanting to have a third child was from 4% to 17% in 2018. Among them, people aged between 45 and 49 accounted for the highest proportion at 16%.

In contrast, the proportion of younger people desiring a third child was very low. This is possibly because younger generations are more focused on individualism and other trends, thus reducing their willingness to have children. At the same time, they face both work and lifestyle constraints, making them not want to, or dare not, have a baby.


In 2018, nearly 80% of people who had received a junior high school education or less wanted to have a third child. But only 9.4% of people with a junior college degree or above wanted a third child. Studies have shown people with higher education are more likely to pursue their own ambitions and are less interested in having children.


It is not surprising to see nearly 60% of people in rural areas wanting a third child in 2018, as the costs of childbearing, child-rearing and education, particularly in first-tier cities, are much higher.


About one quarter of people who wanted to have a third child were from South China’s Guangdong province in 2018, followed by Sichuan and Henan provinces. Guangdong has the highest population of any Chinese region, the latest census shows.

The advent of the three-child policy has expanded the scope of fertility decision-making among families and enhanced the relevance of China’s family planning policy. Some people may worry that the policy change will be a blow to their own ideals in terms of family size, but it could also allow others to meet their aspirations.

Translated by reporter Wang Xintong

Contact editor Lu Zhenhua (

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