The shift in ideal family size: Examining the impact of marriage and parenthood

Yuchen He, Yu Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Motivated by role theory and the concept of the “self-fulfilling prophecy”, this study examines how entries into marriage and parenthood affect the fertility ideals of men and women in China. To address this question, we apply propensity score matching estimators to data from the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS) within a counterfactual framework. We find that marriage and parenthood have a positive effect on fertility ideals, and this result remains robust when we apply difference-in-differences matching estimates. In terms of gender asymmetry in marriage, men and women respond differently to marriage and parenthood. Entry into marriage has a positive effect on men's fertility ideals, while parenthood influences women's ideals. Beyond the average treatment effect, we further examine heterogeneous treatment effects as a function of estimated propensity scores. The study reveals that the life transition treatment effect is the highest among those with a moderate propensity for entering into marriage and parenthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-573
Number of pages21
JournalChinese Journal of Sociology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


  • Fertility ideal
  • family formation
  • propensity score matching
  • treatment effects


Dive into the research topics of 'The shift in ideal family size: Examining the impact of marriage and parenthood'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this