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Fertility, mortality and gender bias among tribal population: an Indian perspective


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  • Maharatna, Arup
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    The present paper critically reviews the existing literature on fertility, mortality and its gender bias among India's tribal population in the post-Independence period. Despite difficulties and limitations of available literature on tribal demography -- most of which has been produced by anthropologists -- our review extracts several interesting and important points. First, although fertility and mortality levels for some tribes and for some regions are either lower or higher or even the same as those for nontribal groups, India's aggregate tribal population evinces both lower fertility and mortality than the levels for their closest comparable nontribal group, namely low caste people. Several sociocultural and lifestyle features of tribals are historically favourable to maintaining a relatively low fertility and mortality. Despite baseline aggregative patterns of demographic differential being favourable to tribes, there is rather strong indication that of late and in the near future Indian tribals might be lagging behind the nontribal population in demographic transition (e.g. in terms of slower pace of tribal fertility and mortality declines). Also, while gender relations among Indian tribes have historically been more balanced and egalitarian, an unfortunate trend of tribal gender bias conforming to the mainstream anti-female pattern (along with acculturation, assimilation and similar 'modernizing' processes) is increasingly discernable under current circumstances.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 50 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 10 (May)
    Pages: 1333-1351

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:50:y:2000:i:10:p:1333-1351

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    Keywords: Tribes Sociocultural features Fertility Mortality Gender discrimination Sex ratio Female-male ratio Low caste Demographic studies Infant mortality Anthropological literature;


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    Cited by:
    1. Arup Maharatna, 2006. "Was India’s Tribal Demographic Behaviour Superior In The Past?," Working Papers id:429, eSocialSciences.
    2. Ueyama, Mika, 2007. "Income growth and gender bias in childhood mortality in developing countries:," IFPRI discussion papers 739, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Mitra, Aparna, 2008. "The status of women among the scheduled tribes in India," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 1202-1217, June.


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