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‘Religion and Fertility in India: The role of son preference and daughter aversion’

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  • Borooah, V.
  • Iyer, S.

Abstract

This paper brings together the notion of ‘son preference’ and the complementary concept of ‘daughter aversion’ to provide an explanation for larger Muslim, relative to Hindu, families in India. Just as sons bring ‘benefits’ to their parents, daughters impose ‘costs’ and complementing a desire to have sons is a desire not to have daughters. Consequently, the desire for sons increases family size while the fear of daughters limits it. A formal model, in which these two countervailing forces act so as to determine equilibrium family size and composition, is developed. Qualitative evidence about Hindus and Muslims in their attitudes towards sons and daughters is presented; as are quantitative results from a Poisson regression model estimated on data for 10,548 women who had attained their equilibrium family size. The analysis concludes that higher Muslim fertility compared to Hindus may in reality reflect significantly lower levels of daughter aversion among this community.

Suggested Citation

  • Borooah, V. & Iyer, S., 2004. "‘Religion and Fertility in India: The role of son preference and daughter aversion’," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0436, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0436
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    File URL: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research-files/repec/cam/pdf/cwpe0436.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rao, Vijayendra, 1993. "The Rising Price of Husbands: A Hedonic Analysis of Dowry Increases in Rural India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 666-677, August.
    2. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1.
    3. Michael J. Brien & Lee A. Lillard, 1994. "Education, Marriage, and First Conception in Malaysia," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(4), pages 1167-1204.
    4. Ragab, Ibrahim A. & Ragab, Ibrahim A., 1980. "Islam and development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 8(7-8), pages 513-521.
    5. Qureshi, Saleem, 1980. "Islam and development: The Zia regime in Pakistan," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 8(7-8), pages 563-575.
    6. Kentaka Aruga, 2003. "Differences in Characteristics ofReligious Groups in India: As Seen From Household Survey Data," CEPE Working paper series 03-26, CEPE Center for Energy Policy and Economics, ETH Zurich.
    7. P. Bhat & A. Zavier, 2003. "Fertility decline and gender bias in," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 40(4), pages 637-657, November.
    8. Jean Drèze & Mamta Murthi, 2001. "Fertility, Education, and Development: Evidence from India," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(1), pages 33-63.
    9. Borooah, Vani K., 2004. "The politics of demography: a study of inter-community fertility differences in India," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 551-578, September.
    10. Siwan Anderson, 2003. "Why Dowry Payments Declined with Modernization in Europe but Are Rising in India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(2), pages 269-310, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. M. Niaz Asadullah & Uma Kambhampati & Florencia Lopez Boo, 2014. "Social divisions in school participation and attainment in India: 1983–2004," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(4), pages 869-893.
    2. Adamos Adamou & Christina Drakos & Sriya Iyer, 2013. "Missing women in the United Kingdom," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-19, December.
    3. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Chakravarty, Abhishek & Gulesci, Selim, 2016. "The Price of Gold: Dowry and Death in India," IZA Discussion Papers 9679, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Amrita Chhachhi & Alaka M. Basu, 2014. "Demography for the Public: Literary Representations of Population Research and Policy," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 45(5), pages 813-837, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Religion; fertility; infant mortality; contraception; gender bias; Poisson regression models;

    JEL classification:

    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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