Son Preference and Sterilization in the Context of Fertility Decline in Tamil Nadu, India

Anne DeLessio-Parson, Pennsylvania State University
Nancy Luke, Pennsylvania State University

Tamil Nadu has long been regarded as a demographic outlier in India, yet within the context of below-replacement fertility, sex ratios have worsened in recent years. Female sterilization is widespread, but it is not clear how the timing of sterilization adoption is influenced by son preference. We use pooled data from the National Family Health Survey to analyze how women’s risk of sterilization varies depending on the sex and number of children, and how these patterns have changed across marital cohorts. Results suggest that sterilization has been adopted more rapidly in recent cohorts, particularly among women with two children with at least one son. Although some couples desire to have one girl as well, in the most recent marital cohort, those with 2 boys adopt sterilization at the same rate as those with 1 girl/1 boy, suggesting that a small completed family size trumps the preferred sex composition of children.

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 Presented in Session P9. Family Planning, Sexual Behavior, and Reproductive Health