Being a Little Emperor or Empress Matters Equally: The One Child Policy and Child Nutrition in China

Shu Wen Ng, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

China’s one child policy coupled with rapid economic growth has triggered major changes in both urban and rural families. This paper examines how being an only child in urban and rural areas combined with son preferences may contribute to changing diets among Chinese children. Using data from four waves of the China Health and Nutrition Surveys this analysis includes 13,148 observations of two- to eighteen-year olds. The analyses use random effects regression and controls for confounders. Children from single-child households have significantly higher consumption of energy from fat than households with more than one child. In addition, the urban residency is significantly related to percentage energy from fats and animal source food intake. The gender effect in general was not significant. These findings indicate that the one-child policy might be a contributory factor in the shift toward less healthy nutrition among children in China, particularly in the urban areas.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Children and Youth, Adolescence, Parenting, Transition to Adulthood, Life Course