The stalled fertility transition in Bangladesh: the effects of sex and number preferences

Jane Menken, University of Colorado at Boulder
Mohammad Nizam Khan, University of Colorado at Boulder
Jill Williams, University of Colorado at Boulder

Over a decade ago, Preston, Muhuri and Menken found child survival was higher for the first two boys and first girl in families. The latter two suggested there may be “a deep-rooted set of preferences …that contradicted notions of desire for large numbers – of either sons or daughters” that contributed to decline in fertility in the late 20th century. We now ask whether preference for a combination of number and sex is related to slowed or stalled fertility decline. Using the 1996 Matlab Health and Socioeconomic Survey, ICDDR,B Health and Demographic Surveillance System birth records, and the 1994-2006 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Surveys, we examine parity progression. Those with two daughters are significantly more likely to have a third child. Those with two sons and a daughter are significantly less likely to have a fourth child. The preferences are only apparent when fertility control is both available and acceptable.

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Presented in Session 99: Comparative fertility in high fertility settings