Son Preference and the Fertility Squeeze in India

Anna-Maria Aksan , Fairfield University

India's sex ratio at birth (SRB) has become increasingly masculine, coinciding with the spread of sex-determination technology. Household level data from India's National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is used to investigate the effects of falling fertility on the SRB. Mixed-effects logit regression analysis demonstrates that since the early 1990s the probability of a third-order birth being male is increasing in the number of daughters previously born, while for second-order births this effect is not apparent until the 2000s. Accounting for geographic heterogeneity in the fertility transition, we find additional heterogeneity in sex selection at the neighborhood level that has strengthened over time, suggesting various stages of the sex ratio transition throughout India. Inclusion of the 2015-16 round of the NFHS demonstrates continuation of previously documented trends, and that sex selection is increasingly occurring at lower parities as the desire for a smaller family combines with the traditional preference for sons.

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 Presented in Session 12. Gender Inequality and Fertility