Son Preference and Reproductive Choice in Madhya Pradesh, India

Jeffrey Edmeades, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Kerry MacQuarrie, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Tina Y. Falle, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

This paper examines the ways in which preference for sons influences women’s reproductive choices in Madhya Pradesh, India. Using an approach based on the insights of the life course perspective, we explore the role of these preferences on use of modern contraception, abortion, and sterilization. We use a longitudinal dataset including information on 9,127 pregnancies from 2,444 women to explore how son preference influences use of temporary contraception, sterilization, and abortion. We include in the analyses a number of pregnancy specific factors shaping these choices, including the preferences of women and their families for sons, measures of women’s autonomy. This allows for a considerably more detailed and comprehensive assessment of the ways in which women’s behavior is influenced by cultural preferences for sons than has been the case in prior research.

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Presented in Session 16: Sex Ratios in Asia