Academic & Law Serials


National Geographer, Vol.XLVIII, No. 1 + 2 (Jan-June, July-Dec. 2013), Pages 1-14

Son Preference and Family Size: A Study in Hanumangarh District (Rajasthan)

Alok Chauhan
Jai Narayan Vyas University, Jodhpur

Jagadish Singh
Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi


Preference for sons in India exerts a considerable effect on the fertility desires and family planning behaviours. It puts great challenges in achieving the goal of population stabilization and adherence of two-child family norm. Therefore, it was thought imperative to examine the parents’ gender preference for son over daughter, by background characteristics and analyse its impact on the family size. For this purpose, a cross sectional study was carried out during September to December 2010 among 610 randomly selected married couples in the reproductive age group of 15-49 years in Hanumangarh district (Rajasthan). The numeric response showed that majority of the survey women (70.17%) irrespective of their background characteristics has a strong desire for sons over daughters. Supplementing the family income (48.36%) was the major reason cited for son preference followed by continuation of family line (23.17%) and old age security (17.29%). The study also portrays that son preference has an edge over socio-economic and demographic variables on the desired family size.

Key words: Dowry, foeticide, ideal number of children, son preference and two-child family norm.


      The existence of strong preference for sons over daughters across the globe has been documented in various studies (Cleland et al. 1983). In India too, particularly in the northern parts of the country, a desire for male child in the family is much stronger than the desire to have one female child. Among the critical variables, the strength of son preference has been observed as one of the major deterrents for reducing the national fertility level (Rajaretnam and Deshpande 1994).

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