Gender and Regional Fertility Variation in India

Premchand Dommaraju, Arizona State University

The pronounced regional variation in both fertility and women’s position in India provides a unique opportunity to study the influence of gender inequality on fertility dynamics. The northern states are characterized by high fertility and high gender inequality while the reverse holds for the southern states. Using data from Demographic Health Survey conducted in 1998, I examine the role of gender inequality in explaining the fertility variation. Two aspects of fertility are considered: variation in actual fertility and variation in desired fertility. Gender inequality is broadly defined to include women’s autonomy and son preference. Preliminary analysis indicates that while gender inequality is a significant factor, it does not explain the regional fertility variation. The fertility variation between these two regions appear to be due to changing norms about family size, which to a large extent is independent of gender inequality.

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Presented in Poster Session 1