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Spatial, socio-economic and demographic variation of childlessness in India: A special reference to reproductive health and marital breakdown
Authors: Praween Agrawal,Sutapa Agrawal, Sayeed Unisa
Source: Global Journal of Medicine and Public Health, Vol. 1, issue 6
Topic(s): Fertility
Reproductive health
Spatial analysis
Country: Asia
Published: MAY 2012
Abstract: Background/Objective India observe double burden of fertility – childlessness along with high fertility, which brings it close to a developed country. Childlessness has serious demographic, social and health implications. We explored spatial variation of childlessness women in India along with several socio-economic and demographic correlates. Further we examined maternal and reproductive health problems among childless women and linkages between marital breakdown (divorce) and childlessness, in comparison to fertile women. Methods Cross-sectional data from 27,505 currently married women, aged 21-49 years, who were interviewed in 1998-99 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-2). These women had been filtered out from all India samples (90,303) based on criteria such as, age more than 20 years, currently not using any family planning methods, marital duration more than 3 years and staying with their husband. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to estimate the prevalence odds ratios for childlessness, adjusting for various covariates. Results Overall, 7% of currently married women in India were childless. Southern (10.9) and Western (10.7) region shows highest percentage of childless women while central region exhibits lowest (4.7%) percentage of childlessness. Andhra Pradesh state shows highest percent of childless women (13.3%) followed by Goa (11.8%). Women with high school complete and above education (OR:1.16;p=0.053), women belonging to other religion (OR:1.51;p=0.004), women belonging to other (general) caste (OR:1.20;p=0.007), women belonging to higher standard of living households (OR:1.30;p<0.0001), currently not working women (OR:1.42;p<0.0001), spousal age gap of 15 years and above (OR:1.55;p<0.0001) were more likely to be childless whereas women in rural area (OR:0.53;p<0.0001) and Muslims women (OR:0.53;p<0.0001) were almost half likely to be childless than their counterparts. Maternal health problems, self reported reproductive health problems and violence against women also emerged significantly higher among childless women than fertile women. Autonomy, examined in terms of women’s decision-making on what to cook and obtaining health care, we found childless women in both type of decision-making are behind the fertile women. The study also found that there is a more than five-fold gap in childlessness between divorced women (37.8%) and currently married women (7%).