Family size preferences and the decision making process in Orissa, India

Harihar Sahoo, Jawaharlal Nehru University

The decision on the number of children is taken purely privately within the household decision making framework. One argument states that, the rising costs and declining economic values of children drives couples to go for smaller families. The other major economic argument states that, it is in parent’s best interest to have large number of children in any agrarian or poor economic setting, where children can be put to work to contribute to the household income. Therefore, in this study an attempt has been made to capture the economic effects in a poor state of India i.e. Orissa, one of the most backward states of India noted for its economic backwardness and high infant mortality rate, where sustained fertility decline has occurred in spite of these unfavourable conditions. Data for the study are drawn from secondary sources like Census, SRS, NFHS and also from primary sources. The result demonstrated that, the CBR and TFR started falling substantially after mid 1980’s. Such decline in an extremely backward state is quite remarkable. It is clearly evident that the desire to stop child bearing increases rapidly with the number of living children. Multiple classification analysis shows that caste, educational level, standard of living of the household, exposure to mass media and number of living son are important determinants of desire family size. It is also evident that in spite of widespread poverty in the state the economic provision of the government is not a precondition for the decision of number of children. The result shows that the thresholds have fallen because of the changing value of children and cost of raising them has increased and child participation in work force has decreased. Such changes have occurred because of speedier diffusion of ideas.

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Presented in Poster Session 1