The New Rich and Their Unplanned Births: Stratified Reproduction under China’s Birth-planning Policy


This article explores the creation and ramifications of a stratified reproductive system under China’s state control of reproduction. Within this system, an emerging group of “new rich” are able to circumvent birth regulations and have unplanned births because of their financial capabilities and social networks. While China’s birth‐planning policy is meant to be enforced equally for all couples, the unequal access to wealth and bureaucratic power as a result of China’s widening social polarization has created disparate reproductive rights and experiences. This article identifies three ways in which reproductive privileges are created. It further explores how a stratified reproductive system under state population control reinforces social polarization. While many socially marginalized couples are unable to register their unplanned children for citizenship status and social benefits, the new rich are able to legitimate their births and transfer their privilege and status to their children, thus reproducing a new generation of elites.