Social Disadvantage and Population Control in India

Kanika Sharma
Aashish Gupta, Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania

Home to one of the most aggressive and scrutinized family planning programs in the world, India, has the highest rates of female sterilizations in the world. However, demographers and social scientists have not paid enough attention to the role of social inequalities and disadvantages in shaping population programs in India, a deeply hierarchical and stratified society. Using data from the latest Demographic and Health Survey (NFHS 2015-16), this proposal documents that lower-caste and indigenous women are much more likely to be sterilized in India. They are also more likely to be sterilized at younger ages. Apart from showing the continued influence of eugenicist population policies in the developing world, these findings may also help explain why sterilization remains the dominant form of contraception provided by the Indian state, or why such a large number of sterilizations happen in sub-standard conditions. We finally outline areas of further work.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 10. Fertility, Family Planning, Sexual Behavior & Reproductive Health 2