NEWS

India's Working Women Have A Distinct Childbearing Pattern Compared With Those Who Stay Home

They have fewer children, but more girls.

09/12/2016 10:29 AM IST | Updated 14/12/2016 11:39 PM IST
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Working women in India in non-agricultural jobs have fewer children than non-working women, but are more likely to have girls, new data from the 2011 Census shows.

Data released by the Office of the Registrar General of India earlier this week shows that women age 15 and above in 2011 had 2.23 children on average. 'Other workers'--meaning women who do not work in agriculture or household industries--had just 1.88 children on average. Women who worked for fewer than six months of the year--known as marginal workers--had 2.56 children on average, and those who did not work had 2.11 children on average. Among all work categories, women who work as cultivators have the highest fertility rates with 2.76 children on average.

Despite having fewer children, women doing 'other work' have more girls. The sex ratio of children for this group is the highest of all categories, at 932 girls for every 1,000 boys, the Census data shows. In comparison, women who do not work have just 873 girls for every 1000 boys, the worst sex ratio of all categories.

In India, typically, not working among women is associated with being better-off, demographer Dr P Arokiasamy, Professor and Head of Department at the International Institute for Population Sciences, says; in other words, you don't work only if you can afford not to. "Since non-workers could be well-to-do, they have better access to pre-natal sex determination technologies," Dr Arokiasamy says. Women working in non-agricultural fields are likely to be better educated, which explains their smaller families, he says.

Overall, fertility is falling in India but sex ratios are getting worse, as the need for a small family forces a country with a preference for boys to use sex determination and abortion technologies to ensure that at least one of their two children is a boy.

More On This Topic