IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

A Multinomial Model of Fertility Choice and Offspring Sex-Ratios in India

Listed author(s):
  • Rubiana Chamarbagwala


    (Indiana University Bloomington)

  • Martin Ranger


    (University of Bonn)

Fertility decline in developing countries may have unexpected demographic consequences. Although lower fertility improves nutrition, health, and human capital investments for surviving children, little is known about the relationship between fertility outcomes and female-male offspring sex-ratios. Particularly in countries with a cultural preference for sons, like India and China, fertility decline may deteriorate the already imbalanced sex-ratios. We use the fertility histories of over 90,000 Indian women in the Second National Family and Health Survey to investigate the relationship between fertility choices and offspring sex-ratios in India. Both within- and between-family-size differences in offspring sex-ratios are examined. Our analysis reveals three main findings. First, within-family-size differences show that for our reference household (i.e. non-low-caste Hindus), parental education reduces anti-female bias in survival in large families (three or more children households) but plays no role in small families (one or two children households). While a higher standard of living worsens anti-female bias in survival in both large and small families, it does so to a greater extent in small families. Small families that own land also have lower offspring sex-ratios compared to landless households. Second, between-family-size differences indicate an `intensification' effect, whereby small families have dramatically lower offspring sex-ratios than large families. The intensification effect is greatest for Sikh and non-low-caste Hindu households, followed by low-caste Hindu and Christian households, but does not exist for Muslims. Third, while maternal education and urban residence weaken the intensification effect, paternal education, a higher standard of living, and land ownership strengthen it. Our results suggest that fertility decline, together with economic growth, may worsen India's already imbalanced sex-ratios. Thus, much needed fertility control policies must be supplemented with programs that counter offspring sex-selection in favor of sons. Policies that seek to eradicate son preference by making daughters more economically attractive to parents as well as those that imbibe more gender-equal attitudes within individuals are critically needed as economic growth generates higher levels of education and wealth in India.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington in its series Caepr Working Papers with number 2007-022.

in new window

Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2007
Handle: RePEc:inu:caeprp:2007022
Contact details of provider: Postal:

Phone: 812-855-1021
Fax: 812-855-3736
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Oster, Emily, 2009. "Does increased access increase equality? Gender and child health investments in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 62-76, May.
  2. Paulo Guimaraes & Richard Lindrooth, 2005. "Dirichlet-Multinomial Regression," Econometrics 0509001, EconWPA.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inu:caeprp:2007022. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.