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Fertility and the household's economic status: A natural experiment using Indian micro data


  • Nabanita Datta Gupta
  • Amaresh Dubey


We model fertility as endogenous to the family's economic status because poor households choose to have large families in the absence of adequate social insurance. Because of a strong son preference in India, having two girls first can proxy an exogenous increase in fertility, and is therefore a good instrument for fertility in determining poverty of rural households. The 1993-1994 Indian Quinquennial Survey data shows that even though poverty rates are comparable, 74 per cent of two-girl families have a third child compared to 63 per cent of other families. Fertility significantly positively affects poverty when treated as exogenous, but vanishes once endogenised. These results are robust to omitting states with skewed sex ratios and to proxying economic status by expenditures.

Suggested Citation

  • Nabanita Datta Gupta & Amaresh Dubey, 2006. "Fertility and the household's economic status: A natural experiment using Indian micro data," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(1), pages 110-138.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:42:y:2006:i:1:p:110-138
    DOI: 10.1080/00220380500356779

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mussa, Richard, 2009. "Impact of fertility on objective and subjective poverty in Malawi," MPRA Paper 16089, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Van Campenhout, Bjorn, 2016. "Fertility, Agricultural Labor Supply, and Production: Instrumental Variable Evidence from Uganda," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(03), pages 581-607, December.

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