Hindu/Muslim fertility differentials: a comparative study off Bangladesh and West Bengal

Nahid Kamal, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Gabriela Mejia Pailles, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

The explanations for differences in Hindu/Muslim fertility have ranged from the minority status hypothesis to differences in socio-economic development between the two communities. The comparison of Muslim dominated Bangladesh and Hindu dominated West Bengal serves as a fertile ground for testing this ongoing debate where Hindus and Muslims form minorities, respectively. A series of linear and logistic regressions were carried out using the 1999-2000 Bangladesh DHS and 1998-1999 West Bengal NFHS in order to ascertain the effects of a number of covariates of fertility and future fertility preferences. Preliminary results suggest that the effect of religion is more significant in West Bengal – that is, the Hindu/Muslim fertility differential is greater in West Bengal than in Bangladesh. Female education and socio-economic status were more important predictors of fertility than religion in Bangladesh. On the other hand, only education was more important than religion in determining fertility levels in West Bengal.

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Presented in Session 19: Cultures of Family Formation and Development across Time and Space

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