Reproductive Consequences of China’s Great Famine, 1959-1961

Yong Cai, University of Utah
Feng Wang, University of California, Irvine

The Great Leap Forward (1959-61)Famine of China is the costliest famine ever in human history in terms of human lives lost. China's TFR plummeted from 6.41 in 1957 to 3.29 in 1961, before rebounding to 7.5 in 1964. Together with an enormous increase in mortality, with crude death rate more than doubling from 10.8 per thousand in 1957 to 25.3 per thousand in 1960, China experienced its first net population decline in decades, with a natural rate of increase of -4.57 per thousand recorded for 1960. Using data from two large-scale pregnancy-history surveys conducted in China in the 1980s, we focus on two questions in this paper. First, what were the mechanisms (e.g.postponement of marriage, prolonged birth intervals, and increased intrauterine mortality -- both voluntary and involuntary) through which reproductive loss occurred? Second, in what ways the response, both in magnitude and mechanisms,varied by social strata?

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Presented in Poster Session 2