Religion and the Decision to Use Contraception in India

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Abstract:

This article investigates two hypotheses put forward to explain the effect of religion on the decision to use contraception in India. The first hypothesis is the “pure religion effect,” that the intellectual content of religion influences contraceptive behavior. This hypothesis is explored by examining women's views on the theological content of Islam and Hinduism in relation to birth control, provided by a sample of 186 rural Hindu and Muslim women from southern India. The second hypothesis examined is the “characteristics” hypothesis, that religious differences in contraceptive adoption are explained by socioeconomic characteristics of religious groups. This is tested by a logit model that shows that there is no statistically significant difference between Hindus and Muslims in the effect of religion on contraceptive adoption, after controlling for socioeconomic characteristics. Taken together, the qualitative and quantitative findings have significant implications for religious groups and for population policies in India.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-5906.00156

Affiliations: British Academy Research Fellow, Faculty of Economics and Politics, University of Cambridge sriya.iyer@econ.cam.ac.uk

Publication date: December 1, 2002

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