Son Preference and Group Majority/Minority: Comparing Hindus and Muslims in India and Bangladesh

Abhijit Visaria, University of Pennsylvania

Religious beliefs are an important determinant of son preference in South Asia, and various studies suggest that son preference is lower among Muslims compared to Hindus. While various hypotheses have been posited for the role of a group’s minority status on its total fertility preferences, it is not clear to what extent a community’s minority/majority status influences a desire for sons over daughters. This paper seeks to answer this by comparing India and Bangladesh, both countries where the two largest religious groups are Hindus and Muslims with a key difference: India is majority-Hindu while Bangladesh is majority-Muslim. Using the Demographic and Health Surveys at comparable time periods in 1999-2007, this study analyzes differences between cohabiting Hindus and Muslims in multiple measures of son preference including ideal fertility preferences, probability of male births conditional on parity and sex composition of previous children, and sex differentials in child health indicators.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Fertility Intentions and Behaviors