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The impact of technical change in agriculture on human fertility: district-level evidence from India


  • Vosti, Stephen A.
  • Witcover, Julie
  • Lipton, Michael


Green Revolution technologies were developed and promoted to boost food supplies and foster development, both of which were expected to create "breathing space" for achieving demographic transitions in developing countries through lowered human fertility. Little comprehensive research, however, has been done on the effects of those technologies themselves on human fertility leaving unanswered the question of whether particular types of agricultural technologies were actually increasing, or decreasing, this demographic "breathing space." This paper uses District-level data from rural India on agricultural change (from 1961 to 1981) and changes in human fertility (from 1971 to 1981) to assess the impact of the former on the latter, with particular emphasis on high yielding (HYV) Green Revolution technologies. Modifying a conceptual framework derived from theory on the determinants of fertility, and estimating a reduced form model that explicitly accounts for endogeneity of real wage growth, we find that, while socio-cultural and demographic factors were the strongest determinants of fertility change: a) Green Revolution and related technologies did have an impact on fertility change; b) that the magnitude and direction of this impact was technology specific; and c) that the impact was only partially due to the effect of the new technologies on changes in real wage growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Vosti, Stephen A. & Witcover, Julie & Lipton, Michael, 1994. "The impact of technical change in agriculture on human fertility: district-level evidence from India," EPTD discussion papers 5, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:eptddp:5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sah, Raaj Kumar, 1991. "The Effects of Child Mortality Changes on Fertility Choice and Parental Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 582-606, June.
    2. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Evenson, Robert E, 1977. "Fertility, Schooling, and the Economic Contribution of Children in Rural India: An Econometric Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(5), pages 1065-1079, July.
    3. Jayasuriya, S. K. & Shand, R. T., 1986. "Technical change and labor absorption in Asian agriculture: Some emerging trends," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 415-428, March.
    4. Malthus, Thomas Robert, 1798. "An Essay on the Principle of Population," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number malthus1798.
    5. √Čtienne Gilbert, 1985. "Victor S. D'Souza, Economic Development, Social Structure and Population Growth," Revue Tiers Monde, Programme National Pers√©e, vol. 26(103), pages 699-699.
    6. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "On the Relevance of the New Economics of the Family," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 317-319, May.
    7. Deolalikar, Anil B, 1988. "Nutrition and Labor Productivity in Agriculture: Estimates for Rural South India," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(3), pages 406-413, August.
    8. George B. Roberts, Chairman, Universities-National Bureau Committee for Economic Research, 1960. "Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number univ60-2, January.
    9. Ansley J. Coale, 1960. "Introduction to "Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries"," NBER Chapters,in: Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries, pages 3-15 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Easterlin, Richard A. & Crimmins, Eileen M., 1985. "The Fertility Revolution," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226180298.
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