ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Golden Cage

The form and nature of marriage and family life have changed over the past few decades in Western societies and in East Asia, but they have taken different pathways. Reproduction is becoming delinked from marriage in the West, while in East Asia remaining single has become more of a norm. Looking at how the various factors operating in these societies impinge on marriages in India, this paper finds that while development has contributed to a significant rise in age at marriage, it has not altered the ultimate proportion of the population getting married by 0-34. These figures are in stark contrast to what is observed in the West and Japan. Deeply rooted in religion and caste, and with marital breakdown facing punishing social and economic costs, the institution of marriage is strong in India and unlikely to show signs of a breakdown in the near future.

Recent Shifts in Infant Mortality in India

The web version of this article corrects a few errors that appeared in the print edition. The pace of decline in infant mortality in India has quickened in recent years after the introduction of the National Rural Health Mission. However, the post-neonatal deaths have declined faster than the neonatal deaths despite the emphasis on preventing the latter in the health mission. Apart from a number of reasons, this is linked to the poor quality of the public health services in general, and the undernourishment and anaemia levels of pregnant women in particular.

Levels and Trends in Caesarean Births: Cause for Concern?

A consistent increase has been observed in the rate of Caesarean section deliveries in most of the developed countries and in many developing countries, including India, over the last few decades. An analysis of the National Family Health Survey data shows that the rate of this form of delivery in states like Kerala, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu is alarmingly high. States with marked demographic transition as well as high institutionalised births have an infl ated rate of c-section deliveries.

Third National Family Health Survey in India: Issues, Problems and Prospects

The three rounds of the National Family Health Survey have generated vast amounts of data, which unfortunately have been subject to only limited critical examination by Indian research scholars, though the opposite is the case with scholars outside India. The nfhs-3, which was conducted in 2005-06, covered many more areas than the previous surveys and collected information in new and sensitive areas like sexual behaviour. However, there are questions about the quality of data thrown up by nfhs-3. Information on some indicators such as fertility and infant mortality remains of reasonably good quality, but the data on nutrition, immunisation, and gender violence is suspect. There have been three of these very large surveys since 1992-93, and it is perhaps time to reflect on the experience so far and plan for the next survey a decade after nfhs-3 which would be five years after the 2011 Census.

Glorifying Malthus: Current Debate on 'Demographic Dividend' in India

Demographic factors have reappeared in the economic development debate with the emergence of the concept of the "demographic dividend". With many developing countries experiencing a rapid decline in fertility, there has been overwhelming optimism that a demographic bonus will take these countries to greater economic heights. At the same time, there are pessimists doubting the ability of these countries to take advantage of the demographic dividend. This paper looks at the concept critically in the context of India. It tries to empirically estimate the contribution of the age structure change to economic growth in the country through a two-stage least square method. The empirical analysis clearly exhibits a powerful positive impact of the boom in the working age group population on economic growth. This is despite the fact that the educational achievements and health conditions of the people are far from desirable and employment creation is well below the required level.

Accelerated Decline in Fertility in India since the 1980s

This study finds that fertility among Muslims follows nearly the same pace of transition as that of Hindus, particularly when an accelerated decline in fertility in the country is taking place. Based on the experience both from the west and other developing countries, there is no reason to believe that fertility transition will stall once the process sets in. Therefore, the scepticism about fertility transition among Indian Muslims is unwarranted. The paper also analyses the proximate determinants of fertility among Hindus and Muslims as against the socio-economic differentials as causes for the differences in reproductive behaviour.

Religion and Fertility

For understanding emerging patterns in fertility behaviour, according to the religious beliefs of a population, it is grossly unscientific to look only at current levels at a time when fertility is falling in all regions and among all communities, at varying rates and in response to different social factors.

Second National Family Health Survey

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has now come to be regarded as a storehouse of demographic and health data in India. The papers in this issue draw on the data generated in NFHS-2 on a range of social, health and demographic indicators. While the second round has come in for some criticism with regard to the quality of data, and the cost of the survey, it would be useful to undertake a repeat survey between the two censuses.

Respondents and Quality of Survey Data

This paper attempts to bring out how far the quality of response in the NFHS data varies with the changing educational levels of the respondents for standard demographic variables like age and sex. The analysis of the data shows that information gathered from uneducated respondents is more erroneous than that from educated groups.

Towards a Demographic Transition

The demographic debate in India now mostly centres on the causes of rapid fertility transition in the context of poor economic and social development. This paper looks at the experience in Andhra Pradesh. It tries to capture the progress of different demographic indicators in the state during the last quarter of a century and the socio-economic factors associated with the demographic phenomena.

Gender Differentials in Adult Mortality

Even as the debate continues on the magnitudes of female foeticide and infanticide, it is necessary to note that the marginal improvements in the sex ratio recorded towards the end of the last century are the outcome of a narrowing gap in gender differentials in adult mortality. This paper looks at the trends and variations in this gap.

Causes of Fertility Decline in India and Bangladesh

Conventional approaches to studies on fertility decline have long assumed the primacy of the household as the prime decision-maker. Aspects of the household such as its economic standard of living, social standing, exposure to mass media, work status were some of the influential factors at work on a couple's decision on their number of children. However, individual and household level factors have been unable in several instances to explain the full course of fertility transition seen in some Indian states and Bangladesh, where in some regions fertility transition cuts across socio-economic and cultural boundaries.Gaps in understanding such trends have been as this paper suggests due to the conventional emphasis on household level variables. It argues instead for the need to look at the influence the community plays in south Asia and to understand the levels of interaction that exist at household level and at the community level.

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