Agricultural Change and Population Growth: District-Level Evidence From India
Green Revolution technologies were developed and promoted in the 1960s in response to alarm about impending famine in Asia. By boosting food supplies and fostering development, the technologies were expected to create "breathing space" for completing demographic transitions there. This paper uses District-level data from rural India on agricultural transformation (from 1961 to 1981) and on changes in human fertility (from 1971 to 1981) to examine whether they did so. In a reduced form model, female literacy and marriage rates emerged as strong fertility change determinants; effects varied by age cohort. Growth in real wages in rural areas, in part brought about by HYV technologies, accelerated fertility declines. With real wage growth effects of Green Revolution technologies controlled for, faster diffusion of wheat and rice HYV each led to faster fertility declines; greater diffusion of bajra (millet) HYV was associated with smaller fertility declines. Policy action to enhance fertility declines may be worthwhile regardless of agricultural sector goals, but policymakers should be aware of direct and indirect effects of agricultural intensification policies on human fertility.
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