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Pathways to Low Fertility in India: Comparison across states and a detailed look at Kerala
Authors: Trina Vithayathil
Source: Asian Population Studies, 9(3):301-321, DOI: 10.1080/17441730.2013.824184
Topic(s): Fertility
Country: Asia
  India
Published: SEP 2013
Abstract: This paper examines emerging patterns of low fertility in regions of India. Using data from the National Family Health Survey, I find that, on average, women in India's low-fertility states follow an ordered life course of marriage followed by first birth, but limit higher-parity births through sterilisation at earlier ages and at higher rates. For a longitudinal perspective, I focus on the Indian state of Kerala, where the total fertility rate has been at- or below-replacement levels for more than 20 years. Women across successive birth cohorts in Kerala are marrying later, but, once married, they transition to first birth at similar rates across birth cohorts. Unlike in most of Europe and East Asia where non-marriage and substantial delays in marriage and childbearing drive low fertility, widespread female sterilisation and the restriction of childbearing to the period soon after marriage are important factors driving below-replacement fertility in regions of India. KEYWORDS • low fertility, • India, • Kerala