"Fertility as Mobility" in India: Salience of Caste, Education and Employment Opportunities
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In this dissertation, we use the "fertility as mobility" approach to study the determinants of fertility outcomes in India. More elaborately, we re- examine the Beckerian hypothesis of a tradeoff between number and quality of children with increasing income levels using the India Human Development Survey (2005) data. Our 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 as compared to those lower down the income scale. Drawing on the seminal work of Susan Greenhalgh on "fertility as mobility" in late nineteenth century traditional Chinese society (1989) and modifying Coale's three necessary and sufficient conditions for demographic transition (1975), we 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 in terms of education and employment opportunities enhance mobility prospects. We also find considerable persistence of occupations across generations suggesting that increasing occupational mobility across generations particularly for those lower down the caste hierarchy is essential for mobility to be a relevant factor in fertility decisions for disenfranchised castes.