Has childlessness rate increased in India? Evidence from national family health surveys
Keywords:Childlessness, Education, Age at marriage, STI, NFHS, India
Background: In the recent years developing countries have been experiencing an increase in the number of women without children. Is India also one of them? This paper tries to analyse whether childlessness has increased in India and what are the factors which determine childlessness.
Methods: The present paper uses cross sectional data from the fourth and fifth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS 4 and NFHS 5). The analysis is based on complete childlessness which includes women above 40 years of age. Bi-variate analysis and binary logistic regression has been used.
Results: The results indicate that overall, 7% of women were childless in India in 2015-2016 which increased to 12% in 2019-2021; the increase was statistically significant. Childlessness was positively associated with level of education, age at marriage, body mass index (BMI) level, and presence of thyroid. Urban women were more prone to experience childlessness.
Conclusions: Although childlessness is less in India compared to the developed world, the percentage of childless women is likely to rise given the increasing trends of woman’s schooling, age at marriage, media exposure, etc. This would in turn increase the demand on reproductive health care services.
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