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India: Son Preference Undermines Desire for Smaller Families

January 17, 2013 • Family Planning, News

Below is a study titled, “The Desire for Sons and Excess Fertility: A Household-Level Analysis of Parity Progression in India” by Sanjukta Chaudhuri, University of Wisconsin. In a nut shell, the study found that desire for sons in India often compel women to have more children than they otherwise might. In fact, the study figures that this desire for sons accounts for 7% of all births in India. This equates to a remarkable 1.9 million births per year, out of a total of roughly 27.3 million births per year in the country.

The complete study (PDF) can be accessed with the following link.

http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3817812.pdf

The Guttmacher press release and excerpts of the study are below.

IN INDIA, PREFERENCE FOR SONS UNDERMINES DESIRE FOR SMALLER FAMILIES, SLOWING DECLINE IN POPULATION GROWTH

See: http://www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2013/01/14/index.html

Despite a strong family planning program and a growing desire for smaller families, women in India often have more children than they would like because of a longstanding preference for sons over daughters. A new study exploring this issue finds that continued childbearing driven by son preference accounts for 7% of all births in the country. According to “The Desire for Sons and Excess Fertility: A Household-Level Analysis of Parity Progression in India,” by Sanjukta Chaudhuri of the University of Wisconsin, women were more likely to stop having children if their last child had been a son rather than a daughter. The author also found a strong relationship between family size and the proportion of female children in a family.

Son preference has come into conflict with the desire for smaller families in many parts of South, East and Central Asia, where a much higher value is placed on men than on women. This analysis, which used data from India’s 2005-2006 National Family Health Survey on women aged 35-49 who had at least one child, found that the desire for sons is a key driver of women having another child. Indian women without any sons are more likely to continue having children than those without any daughters. For example, women whose first child was a daughter were more likely to have another child than those whose first child was a son, and women whose first two children were daughters were more likely to have another child than those whose first two children were sons. As a result, Indian girls are likely to grow up in larger families than boys do; in such families, fewer resources are available to each child, and girls are likely to receive a smaller share of those resources than their brothers, leading to gender disparities in health, education and other outcomes.

To read the full release, please click here: http://www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2013/01/14/index.html



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