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A Girl and a Boy, Are a Bundle of Joy: A Rise in Gender-Equitable Fertility Preferences in India
Authors: Isha Bhatnagar
Source: Studies in Family Planning, 54
Topic(s): Family planning
Country: Asia
Published: MAY 2023
Abstract: Within the last decade, declining son preference in Asia has given rise to gender-equitable fertility preferences. These include daughter preference, gender indifference, and gender balance. Using five rounds of the India National Family Health Surveys, I investigate the sources of the trends in shifting parental preferences for the gender of their children. Over more than a quarter-century period (1992–1993 to 2019–2021), I find a significant decline in son preference from 40 to 18 percent and an increase in gender-equitable preferences among most subpopulations. Multivariate analysis shows that for all survey years, education and frequent exposure to television significantly increased the odds of gender-equitable preferences. In the last decade, community norms supporting women's employment are also associated with gender-equitable preferences. In addition, decomposition analysis shows that compared to compositional change, social norm change accounts for two-thirds of the rise in gender-equitable preferences. These findings suggest that rising norms of gender equality have the potential to dismantle gender-biased preferences in India.