The Stalled Fertility Transition in Bangladesh: The Effects of Gender and Number Preferences

Jane Menken, University of Colorado at Boulder
Nizam Khan, University of Colorado at Boulder
Abdur Razzaque, ICDDR,B: Centre for Health and Population Research

Over a decade ago, Preston, Muhuri and Menken found child survival was higher for the first two boys and first girl in a family. The latter two suggested there may be “a deep-rooted set of preferences …that contradicted notions of desire for large numbers – of either sons or daughters” that contributed to decline in fertility in the late 20th century. Today it is reasonable to ask whether preference for two boys and a girl is related to the plateau in fertility. Using the 1996 Matlab Health and Socioeconomic Survey, ICDDR,B Health and Demographic Surveillance System birth records, and the 1994-2004 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Surveys, we examine parity progression for maternal cohorts according to number and gender of their children. For younger women in more recent years, parity progression is related to gender composition of siblings. Complex gender preference may well contribute to stalled fertility in Bangladesh and other countries.

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Presented in Session 115: The Relationship between Fertility and Family Planning