Like mother(-in-law) like daughter? Influence of the older generation’s fertility behaviours on women’s desired family size in Bihar, India

Abhishek Kumar, Valeria Bordone, Raya Muttarak

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This paper investigates the associations between preferred family size of women in rural Bihar, India and the fertility behaviours of their mother and mother-in-law. Scheduled interviews of 440 pairs of married women aged 16–34 years and their mothers-in-law were conducted in 2011. Preferred family size is first measured by Coombs scale, allowing us to capture latent desired number of children and then categorized into three categories (low, medium and high). Women’s preferred family size is estimated using ordered logistic regression. We find that the family size preferences are not associated with mother’s fertility but with mother’s education. Mother-in-law’s desired number of grandchildren is positively associated with women’s preferred family size. However, when the woman has higher education than her mother-in-law, her preferred family size gets smaller, suggesting that education provides women with greater autonomy in their decision-making on childbearing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-660
Number of pages32
JournalEuropean Journal of Population
Issue number5
Early online date6 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • Coombs scale
  • Desired family size
  • Fertility preference
  • India
  • Intergenerational transmission
  • Mother-in-law

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