This article examines the relationship between women's status and fertility in India in the current (third) phase of the Indian fertility transition that began in the period 1900-1920. Variables used in the study include caste, occupation, and education of husband and wife, educational status of the household, role of female in the society, autonomy in decision-making, and interaction with and exposure to mass media. Women's status is conceptualized at the micro-level using the household as a unit; and the macro-level using society as a unit. Given the low levels of female literacy and participation in salaried employment, variables such as caste, education, and occupation of husband have been included in the computation of women's status. The variables, age-specific fertility rate, fecundity, and the number of children ever born, have been used as measures of fertility. Among other findings, the study reveals that there is a difference of approximately two births in the total fertility rate between low status and high status groups of women, and that there is an inverse relationship between the autonomy in decision-making and the level of fertility. © 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd.
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