Muslim/Non-Muslim Differentials in Fertility and Family Planning in India

by Vinod Mishra

East-West Center Working Papers, Population and Health Series, No. 112

Publisher: Honolulu: East-West Center
Publication Date: January 2004
Binding: paper
Pages: 49
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Reasons for lower contraceptive use and higher fertility among Muslims than among non-Muslims in India are highly debated. This paper examines differentials in fertility and contraceptive use by religion using data from India's 1992-93 and 1998-99 National Family Health Surveys. The analysis shows that socioeconomic factors do not explain lower use of family planning and higher fertility among Muslims. A reason may be heavy reliance of India's family planning program on sterilization and Muslims' preference for temporary methods over sterilization. Another reason may be heavy reliance of the program on public-sector sources of supply of family planning and Muslims' preference for private-sector services due to greater privacy needs. A third reason may be greater opposition to family planning among Muslims, which is indicated in surveys as their main reason for not currently using and not intending to use family planning in the future. The findings suggest that greater availability of modern temporary methods and expansion of private-sector family planning services may increase contraceptive use and lower fertility among Muslims in India. Education and motivation programs aimed at reducing opposition to family planning may also help achieve these objectives.