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Stud Fam Plann. 1996 Mar-Apr;27(2):107-18.

Ideal-family-size and sex-composition preferences among wives and husbands in Nepal.

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  • 1Population Studies Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48105-2590, USA.


This study tests the hypothesis that, in Nepal, measures of ideal family size mask an underlying preference for sons, making some people willing to have families larger than their ideal. Existing evidence suggests that men are likely to have stronger preferences for sons than are women. This research uses empirical evidence to examine the hypothesis that husbands are more willing than their wives to pursue the birth of sons at the cost of an increasingly large completed family size. A Multiple-response Fertility Preference Scale was developed to test these propositions among a sample of couples. The methodology was successful in demonstrating differential patterns of decisionmaking between husbands and wives that are otherwise obscured by more simplistic, single-response measures (for example, ideal family size). The results indicate that husbands are consistently more willing than their wives to pursue the birth of sons at the expense of larger family sizes, and that the birth of daughters is not pursued to a similar degree by wives or husbands.

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