Linkages among fertility, migration, and aging in India

Apoorva Jadhav, University of Pennsylvania


Rapid fertility declines in India have been occurring concurrently with economic growth, changing family dynamics, and a rise in the older population- consistent with the demographic transition. This dissertation explores these relationships using the India Human Development Survey (2005-06), Building a Knowledge Base on Population Aging in India (2011), and a qualitative study. First, I investigate the relationship between increased female autonomy in partner choice and length to first birth interval, and find two important mechanisms: Women with more educational attainment are more likely choose their own partner, delay marriage, "catch-up" with others and have their first child soon after marriage. Then, unsafe premarital sexual intercourse among unmarried women either during the period between engagement and marriage, or otherwise, that results in pregnancy can mean even shorter birth intervals. Second, I explore the relationship between internal migration, remittances, and contraceptive use. I find that households with a migrant have significantly higher contraceptive use than households without a migrant, but this relationship turns negative for women whose husbands are migrants, the "absence effect". Remittances are associated with a decrease in contraceptive use, providing evidence for the "income/ideas effect". Finally, I study various aspects of aging in India: living arrangements, health status, access to healthcare and pensions. I find that vulnerability of widows in old-age is a reflection of an accumulation of disadvantage that begins in early childhood, the urban poor are isolated in terms of living arrangements and pension receipt, and that chronic diseases and disability are related to living arrangements and interaction with family. There are three noteworthy conclusions. First: Instead of interventions focusing solely on increasing age at marriage among women, the focus should also be on the timing of first birth. Second: Family planning programs targeted at increasing contraceptive use must consider the importance of migration, diffusion of ideas, and additional income in influencing decisions. Third: Integrating health and financial needs of elderly into existing national frameworks are essential for a segment of the population that is will continue to grow in the next 100 years.

Subject Area

Public health|South Asian Studies|Demography

Recommended Citation

Jadhav, Apoorva, "Linkages among fertility, migration, and aging in India" (2014). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3623861.