Son Preference: A Reason for Slow Fertility Transition in Pakistan? Exploring Duration Model of Birth Intervals

Syeda Naz , Penn State

Son preference exerts a strong influence over fertility decisions. However, in Pakistan, where fertility remains high at 3.6 births per woman, research on son preference has been limited. I study differential fertility stopping behavior using “duration model of birth interval” to examine son preference. Using PDHS 2017-18, I apply Cox proportional hazard regression to estimate the impact of gender composition of living children on subsequent birth intervals. After controlling for birth-, mother-, household- and community-level factors, women who had more daughters than sons at the time of the index birth were at 8.6% higher risk of having another birth compared to those who had more sons than daughters. These findings confirm that couples will continue childbearing as long as they do not have a desired number of sons. Results of this analyses indicate that continuation of the fertility transition may be difficult unless the degrees of differential fertility stopping behavior decline. My analysis also highlights the impact of differential stopping behavior on child health due to shorter birth intervals, this link has been missing in the existing literature.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course