Are the population policies of India and China responsible for the fertility decline?

In the 1970s, policy-makers in both India and China, convinced that reducing population growth was critical for ending poverty, instituted coercive population policies. Yet fertility had already been declining in both countries before the population policies were instituted. In China, the total fertility rate (TFR) had already fallen to 2.9 before the institution of the One-Child Policy. In India, fertility continued to decline at roughly the same rate before, during and after ‘The Emergency’. Regardless of government mandates, couples in both countries before the policies and since have shown a desire to reduce their family size and when given access to family planning, have voluntarily limited the number of children they chose to have.

Keywords: Population policy; India; China; Family planning; Fertility decline

Published in International Journal of Environmental Studies, Vol. 67, No. 3, June 2010, 291–301