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Explaining son preference in rural India: the independent role of structural versus individual factors

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  • Rohini Pande

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  • Nan Astone

Abstract

Much research has been done on demographic manifestations of son preference, particularly girls’ excess mortality; however, there is less research that focuses on son preference itself. This paper analyzes the determinants of son preference in rural India. We separate the independent, relative effects of characteristics of individual women and their households, village opportunities for women and village development, and social norms. We look at both socioeconomic and sociocultural variables. Finally, we examine whether predictors of son preference differ by desired family size. Our data come from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) India, 1992–1993. We use an ordered logit model, with dummy variables for state of residence. Our analysis shows that women’s education, particularly at secondary and higher levels, is consistently and significantly associated with weaker son preference, regardless of desired family size. Once factors measuring social norms, such as marriage customs, caste and religion, are included, economic wealth and women’s employment at household or village levels are not significant. Media access remains significant, suggesting an influence of “modernizing” ideas. Among social factors, caste and religion are associated with son preference but, once state of residence is controlled for, marriage patterns and cultivation patterns are insignificant. The strength and significance for son preference of many determinants differs by desired family size. Our results suggest that policy makers seeking to influence son preference need to identify and target different policy levers to women in different fertility and social contexts, rather than try an approach of one size that fits all. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Suggested Citation

  • Rohini Pande & Nan Astone, 2007. "Explaining son preference in rural India: the independent role of structural versus individual factors," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 26(1), pages 1-29, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:poprpr:v:26:y:2007:i:1:p:1-29
    DOI: 10.1007/s11113-006-9017-2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Filmer, Deon*Pritchett, Lant, 1998. "Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data - or tears : with an application to educational enrollments in states of India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1994, The World Bank.
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    2. Scott South & Katherine Trent & Sunita Bose, 2014. "Skewed Sex Ratios and Criminal Victimization in India," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(3), pages 1019-1040, June.
    3. Kenneth W Clements & Izan H Y Izan, 2013. "Report on the 25th PhD Conference in Economics and Business," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 13-05, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    4. Palloni, Giordano, 2017. "Childhood health and the wantedness of male and female children," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 19-32.
    5. Adriana D. Kugler & Santosh Kumar, 2017. "Preference for Boys, Family Size, and Educational Attainment in India," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(3), pages 835-859, June.
    6. Scott South & Katherine Trent & Sunita Bose, 2012. "India’s ‘Missing Women’ and Men’s Sexual Risk Behavior," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 31(6), pages 777-795, December.
    7. Tin-chi Lin & Alícia Adserà, 2013. "Son Preference and Children’s Housework: The Case of India," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 32(4), pages 553-584, August.
    8. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1380-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Vani S. Kulkarni & Manoj Pandey & Raghav Gaiha, 2013. "MDGs and gender inequality," Global Development Institute Working Paper Series 18813, GDI, The University of Manchester.
    10. Seema Jayachandran, 2017. "Fertility Decline and Missing Women," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 118-139, January.
    11. Sylvestre Gaudin, 2011. "Son Preference in Indian Families: Absolute Versus Relative Wealth Effects," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(1), pages 343-370, February.
    12. Augsburg, Britta & Rodríguez-Lesmes, Paul Andrés, 2018. "Sanitation and child health in India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 22-39.
    13. Chakraborty, Tanika, 2012. "Impact of Industrialization on Relative Female Survival: Evidence from Trade Policies," IZA Discussion Papers 6647, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    16. Silvia Helena Barcellos & Leandro S. Carvalho & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2014. "Child Gender and Parental Investments in India: Are Boys and Girls Treated Differently?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, pages 157-189.
    17. Patra, Nilanjan, 2008. "State-wise pattern of gender bias in child health in India," MPRA Paper 21435, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Marie-Claire Robitaille & Ishita Chatterjee, 2013. "Mother-In-Law and Son Preference in India," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 13-04, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    19. Silvia Helena Barcellos & Leandro Siqueira Carvalho & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2010. "Child Gender and Parental Investments in India Are Boys and Girls Treated Differently?," Working Papers WR-756, RAND Corporation.
    20. Chakraborty, Tanika, 2015. "Trade Liberalization in a Traditional Society: Implications for Relative Female Survival," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 158-170.
    21. Gupta, Prachi & Das, Upasak & Singh, Ashish, 2013. "Child disability and maternal work participation: New evidence from India," Economics Discussion Papers 2013-6, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    22. Lutfunnahar Begum & Philip J. Grossman & Asadul Islam, 2014. "Parental Attitude and Investment in Children’s Education and Health in Developing Countries," Monash Economics Working Papers 30-14, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    23. Lídia Farré, 2013. "The Role of Men in the Economic and Social Development of Women: Implications for Gender Equality," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 28(1), pages 22-51, February.

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    Keywords

    Discrimination; Gender; India; Inequality; Son preference;

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