Back to browse results
The desire for sons and excess fertility: a household-level analysis of parity progression in India
Authors: Chaudhuri S.
Source: International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health (formerly: International Family Planning Perspectives), 38(4):178-86. doi: 10.1363/3817812.
Topic(s): Family planning
Fertility preferences
Son preference
Country: Asia
Published: DEC 2012
Abstract: CONTEXT: The desire for sons often influences fertility behavior in India. Women with a small number or low proportion of sons may be more likely than other women to continue childbearing. METHODS: Data from India's 2005-2006 National Family Health Survey were used to examine several hypotheses regarding the association between sex composition of children and parity progression among parous women aged 35-49. Descriptive analyses and multivariate logistic regression analysis that controlled for possible confounders were performed separately by parity. RESULTS: Women with more sons than daughters were generally less likely than those with more daughters than sons to continue childbearing; parity progression driven by the desire for sons accounted for 7% of births. At any given parity, the last-born child of women who had stopped childbearing was more likely to be a son than a daughter (sex ratios, 133-157). In multivariate analyses, women without any sons were more likely than women without any daughters to continue childbearing at parities 1-4 (odds ratios, 1.4-4.5). At most or all parities, continued childbearing was positively associated with having had a child who died, and negatively associated with levels of women's education and media exposure and with household wealth. CONCLUSIONS: The desire for sons appears to be a significant motivation for parity progression. Although population policies that reduce family size are essential, also imperative are policies that reduce desire for sons by challenging the perception that sons are more valuable than daughters