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J Biosoc Sci. 2014 Jul;46(4):480-517. doi: 10.1017/S0021932013000369. Epub 2013 Jul 19.

Determinants of pregnancy and induced and spontaneous abortion in a jointly determined framework: evidence from a country-wide, district-level household survey in India.

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*Alfred Deakin Research Institute,Deakin University,Geelong,Australia.
†Department of Economics,Monash University,Clayton,Australia.


This study provides evidence on the principal determinants of pregnancy and abortion in India using a large country-wide district-level data set (DLHS 2007). The paper provides an economic framework for the analysis of pregnancy and abortion. The study distinguishes between induced and spontaneous abortion and compares the effects of their determinants. The results show that there are wide differences between induced and spontaneous abortions in terms of the sign and magnitude of the estimated effects of several of their determinants, most notably wealth, the woman's age and her desire for children. The study makes a methodological contribution by proposing a trivariate probit estimation framework that recognizes the joint dependence of pregnancy and induced and spontaneous abortion, and provides evidence in support of this joint dependence. The study reports an inverted U-shaped effect of a woman's age on her pregnancy and both forms of abortion. The turning point in each case is quite robust to the estimation framework. A significant effect of contextual variables, at the village level, constructed from the individual responses, on a woman's pregnancy is found. The effects are weaker in the case of induced abortion, and insignificant in the case of spontaneous abortion. The results are shown to be fairly robust. This paper extends the literature on the relation between son preference and fertility by examining the link between mother's son preference and desire for more children with abortion rates.

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