The role of husband, mother-in-law and social networks on fertility patterns in rural India

Praveen Kumar Pathak, University of Delhi and International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Raya Muttarak, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)
Valeria Bordone, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)
Faujdar Ram, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

The stubbornly elevated patterns of fertility among rural Indian women characterized with too many, too often and too closely spaced children contests the available demographic propositions. This paper aims to provide novel empirical evidence on the role of social networks in determining fertility of women in India using ego-centric social network data collected in 2010 covering 567 women aged between 18-35 years in rural Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. We investigate: 1) whether actual and desired number of children of social networks are associated with fertility controlling for demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the respondents, their husband, mother-in-law, and biological mother; and 2) what explains the influence of social networks on fertility patterns. The paper demonstrates that social networks play a key role, through social contagion and social pressure, in driving fertility behavior of sample women. However, the role of mother-in-law dissipates once characteristics of husband and networks are controlled for.

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Presented in Session 59: Social network and fertility