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

  • Borooah, V.
  • Iyer, S.

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.

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File URL: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research/repec/cam/pdf/cwpe0436.pdf
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Paper provided by Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge in its series Cambridge Working Papers in Economics with number 0436.

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Length: 40
Date of creation: Jul 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0436
Note: DE
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/index.htm

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  1. 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.
  2. 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 666-77, August.
  3. P. Bhat & A. Zavier, 2003. "Fertility decline and gender bias in," Demography, Springer, vol. 40(4), pages 637-657, November.
  4. 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.
  5. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Ragab, Ibrahim A. & Ragab, Ibrahim A., 1980. "Islam and development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 8(7-8), pages 513-521.
  9. 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.
  10. Qureshi, Saleem, 1980. "Islam and development: The Zia regime in Pakistan," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 8(7-8), pages 563-575.
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