PLoS One. 2022 Nov 8;17(11):e0277210. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0277210. eCollection 2022.
In this paper, we present evidence from a lab-in-the-field experiment of the effects of the Chinese one-child policy on adults in China who were born just before and after the introduction of the policy. We measure risk, uncertainty, and time preferences, as well as subjects’ preferences in the social domain, i.e., concerning competitiveness, cooperation, and bargaining. We sampled people from three Chinese provinces born both before and after the introduction of the policy in 1979. We utilize the fact that the one-child policy was introduced at different times and with different degrees of strictness in different provinces. Overall, we find a statistically significant effect only on risk and uncertainty aversion and not on any other preferences in the experiments: Those born after the introduction of the one-child policy are less risk and uncertainty averse. These results hold for various robustness checks and heterogeneity tests. Hence, our results do not confirm the general wisdom and stereotype of only-children in China being “little emperors.”