Further Evidence from India∗
Jean Drèze CDE, Delhi School of Economics Delhi 110 007 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mamta Murthi CHE, King’s College Cambridge CB2 1ST (e-mail: email@example.com)
22 November, 1999
Abstract There has been a significant decline in fertility in many parts of India since the early 1980s. This paper reexamines the determinants of fertility levels and fertility decline, using panel data on Indian districts for 1981 and 1991. We find that women's education is the most important factor explaining fertility differences across the country and over time. Low levels of child mortality and son preference also contribute to lower fertility. By contrast, general indicators of modernization and development such as urbanization, poverty reduction and male literacy bear no significant association with fertility. En passant, we probe a subject of much confusion - the relation between fertility decline and gender bias. Keywords: fertility, demographic transition, female literacy, India
We are grateful to Alaka Basu, Angus Deaton, P N Mari Bhat, Amartya Sen, S V Subramanian, and seminar participants at Cambridge and Harvard for useful discussions. Mamta Murthi’s work was supported by the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation's network on Inequality and Poverty in Broader Perspectives.
India is in the midst of a significant demographic transition. In Kerala, a state well known for its advanced social indicators, fertility is below the replacement level (2.1 children per woman). What is less well known is that substantial fertility decline is taking place far beyond the boundaries of Kerala. For instance, fertility is also below replacement level in Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh is only a couple of years away from the same benchmark. The decline, however, is highly uneven: in the 1980s, for instance, the total fertility rate declined by 25 percent in Punjab but virtually... [continues]
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