Are Births Underreported in Rural China? Manipulation of Statistical Records in Response to China's Population Policies

Demography. 2000 Feb;37(1):109-26.


Under the current family planning policy in China, the criterion for evaluating all parties involved in the birth planning system provides an incentive for everyone to see that the policy is met, either in reality through strict enforcement of family planning regulations, or statistically through manipulation of statistical records. We investigate underreporting of births in four rural counties of northern China, using data from a 1992 sample survey featuring a reproductive history. To clarify the mechanisms of underreporting, we focus on the ways in which reporting errors may affect the distribution of first births by time since marriage. The results of our investigation suggest that in three of the four counties, first-birth intervals are lengthened by underreporting of girl babies and by replacing them with second births reported as first births.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Data Collection
  • Family Planning Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Forms and Records Control / methods
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Population Control / trends*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Public Policy*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Rural Population*
  • Sex Ratio