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Public Reactions Towards China's Three-Child Policy:  an Analysis of Weibo Commentary

35 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2022 Publication Status: Preprint

See all articles by Yuyin Yang

Yuyin Yang

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Sisi Peng

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Carole Browner

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Abstract

On May 31, 2021, China announced that couples may have up to three children (Xinhua Net, 2021). We sought to understand why subsequent public opinion was overwhelmingly negative. In phase one of this two-part investigation, we identified a Weibo video published in 2021 by China News Service that featured population economists explaining the rationale behind the policy change. We applied sentiment analysis, critical discourse analysis, and co-word matrix to the content of the announcement and its 292 public comments. In phase two, we used the same methodology to analyze a Weibo article posted by China News Service in 2013 announcing the Two-Child Policy and its 115 public comments. Dislike, hatred, and/or betrayal were common reactions to the Three-Child Policy announcement. Commenters mentioned frustration with existing inadequate access to education, the high cost of living, and gendered workplace discrimination. In contrast, comments about the Two-Child Policy post were primarily positive. We argue that the Three-Child Policy announcement failed to respond or even acknowledge personal worries about having children. Our research highlights the role of social media in enabling citizens to articulate their reactions to a critical policy issue. We argue that the Chinese government must develop population policies designed not only to meet demographic targets but also to support individuals' reproductive goals.

Keywords: Three-Child Policy, China, Weibo, Sentiment Analysis

Suggested Citation

Yang, Yuyin and Peng, Sisi and Browner, Carole, Public Reactions Towards China's Three-Child Policy:  an Analysis of Weibo Commentary. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4254151 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4254151

Yuyin Yang (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

Sisi Peng

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

Carole Browner

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

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