Sunday, 12 August 2012

Population Studies [Sociology]

Barrett, Kenley: The Determinants of Female Decision-Making Power and its Demographic Implications: An Analysis of Northern and Southern India. Demography India 36, 1 (2007): 1-19.

This paper examines the correlation between female decision-making power and fertility levels by comparing northern India (the states of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab) with southern India (Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh).  Generally it is assumed that female autonomy and greater decision-making power within the household are directly related to the reduction of fertility levels, since greater autonomy enables the wife to negotiate with her husband and other family members regarding reproductive decisions.  

The study finds that:
- women who are younger or who are in a relationship of ‘daughter-in-law’ to the head of household have less decision-making power,
- while self-employed women or those who are in non-family employment have greater decision-making power.
- Exposure to the media is also positively correlated with decision-making power,
- Southern women with greater decision-making power have lower ideal fertility
- Northern women with greater decision-making power prefer fewer children and they are also more likely to use contraception.
- But overall the data show that women with high decision-making power have high fertility. , suggesting that high fertility usually promotes high decision-making power.

The paper concludes that, in the absence of the expected negative relationship between female decision making power and the number of births, it is important that researchers should develop a better understanding of the fertility preferences of men, and where these differ from those of women.

Haq, Ehsanul: Patriarchal Ideology and Gender Imbalance in India. The Eastern Anthropologist 60, 2 (2007): 183-206

India has particularly low sex-ratios (933 females per 1000 males, according to the 2001 Census), especially in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. This article seek to understand the root causes for the depleting sex-ratios at birth. According to the author, the problem lies in the conflict between the patriarchal ideology (expressed in a family-specific and particularistic micro-structure of values) and the unified ideals of the macro-society. This conflict continues even with modernization, and the growth of technology has in fact only compounded the problem of worsening sex-ratios.

Though low sex ratios are believed to be typical of rural areas, the author observes that urban areas show a similar gender preference, as exemplified in the case of Delhi, a major city with relatively high levels of education. Compared to both Muslims and Christians, the sex bias is more pronounced among Hindus. A number of features of the traditional Hindu family system account for this bias:
- the system of inheritance
- the idea that producing a male heir carries spiritual rewards;
- social and economic necessity;
- the expenses associated with dowry (kanyadan) marriage for daughters.
Thus a combination of micro-factors contribute to the depleting child sex ratios in the country, mandating a range of interventions by formal and informal agencies.

Pau, Lopamudra: Changes in the Initiation of Childbearing during
Early Phase of Nuptiality Transition: An Assessment for NorthCentral India. Demography India 36, 1 (2007): 21-38.

In many societies like India where marriage is a social institution that legitimizes sexual relations and childbirth, early age at marriage gives women a long reproductive life span and concomitantly higher risk of pregnancy and higher fertility. Though India’s preference for early age of marriage for women is now changing, analysis of data for the last three decades shows that (in the four states of Bihar, MP, Rajasthan and UP), and consistently over the years, the median age at consummation is lower then the minimum legal age of marriage in India. It is observed that nearly 95 per cent of women experience at least one childbirth by the age of 25 years, and indeed more then 50 per cent women have a child by the age of 20 years.
Analysis shows that the net effect of socio-economic factors like education has some significant effect on the age of consummation by increasing the age of marriage, but has no significance for the age of birth, the reason being that the gap between consummation and first birth has actually declined over time in the

Ranjan, Alok and Anil B. Deolalikar: The Institutional Context of Fertility in Madhya Pradesh, India.  Demography India 36, 1 (2007): 55-72.

Focusing on the state of Madhya Pradesh, this paper analyses the social factors that operate at the level of family and society in shaping reproductive behaviour and determining fertility levels.  Among the various institutional norms that contribute to the shaping of individual reproductive behaviour, families are an important institution providing social, psychological and financial support. Beyond families, there are local-level supra-family groupings that also exert considerable influence on the decision-making environment within the family. Religion and caste are the most obvious of these supra-family groupings, alongside peer groups and community level organizations.
The study reveals that fertility in particular, and reproductive behaviour in general, has a strong institutional orientation in the  Indian system. For instance,
- the value that women attach to pregnancy within the family setting is an important motivational force in reproductive decision-making.
- The majority of women surveyed saw pregnancy as enhancing their status in their husband’s family.
- The influence of local level suprafamily groupings on reproductive decision-making is very strong, while education and place of residence are usually subsidiary.

The authors conclude that the techno-medical approach which currently guides the planning and implementation of fertility control activities is not suitable in a society guided by such social norms, and that approaches to fertility regulation need to pay attention to the existing institutional environment in order to attain the desired goal of reducing the high fertility levels in the state.

Singh, Abhishek, Faujdar Ram and Rajiv Ranjan: Couples’ Reproductive Intentions in Two Culturally Contrasting States of North
Eastern India. Demography India 36, 1 (2007): 39-53.

Social organization and cultural norms do have a direct effect on women’s autonomy, childbearing intentions, child-sex preferences, and their use of contraception, with women in ‘matriarchal’ Meghalaya having greater involvement in reproductive health decision-making than their counterparts in ‘patriarchal’ Manipur.

Statistical analysis reveals that:
-  husbands in general desire more children than do wives, irrespective of the cultural setting to which they belong.
- In matriarchal Meghalaya, couples are more likely to desire more children compared to the couples from Manipur.
- 67 per cent in patriarchal Manipur would prefer to have a male child, while in matriarchal Meghalaya 69 percent hope to have a daughter as their next child.  [The preference for either a male or a female child probably contributes to high fertility levels in both states].
- With regard to reported contraceptive use, more wives than the husbands in matriarchal Meghalaya report current use of contraception, whereas the reverse is the case in Manipur.


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