Son Preference in an Urban, Low Fertility Context: The Case of Delhi, India

Ridhi Kashyap, Harvard University

This paper quantitatively examines the dynamics of son preference in the urban, developed low fertility setting of Delhi in northwest India. Using data on ideal fertility preferences from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2005-06, I unpack son preference within broader family planning preferences, and examine the relationship between individual-level economic, cultural and household characteristics and son preference. The data demonstrate that son preference in urban, low fertility contexts such as Delhi is best explained by what I term implicit, rather than, explicit son preference. Most women in Delhi desire one son and one daughter; however, at least one son is sought to mark the closure of childbearing, within an overall family size that rarely exceeds two. Further, I find that even when controlling for education, wealth and employment status, women in larger, extended households are more likely to express implicit son preference than those living in smaller, nuclear setups.

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Presented in Poster Session 7