"Fertility as Mobility": What Does It Tell Us about Mobility in India?

Manjistha Banerji, University of Maryland

In his famous 1960 treatise “An Economic Analysis of Fertility”, Becker proposed that household income levels are negatively associated with fertility levels but increasing investment in children to improve their "quality". Using the India Human Development Survey (2005) data, this paper re- examines the Beckerian hypothesis of a tradeoff between number and quality of children with increasing income levels. My contention is that it is not necessarily the case that couples at higher end of the income scale will have fewer but higher quality children than those at the lower end. Using Greenhalgh’s “fertility as mobility” framework and Coale’s three necessary and sufficient conditions for demographic transition, I argue that even couples lower down the income scale will be willing to invest in quality rather than quantity of children if the institutional framework (particularly in terms of education and employment opportunities) enhance mobility prospects.

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Presented in Poster Session 2