Perceived Value of Children and Fertility Behavior: Evidence from Odisha, India


Fertility has declined in Odisha (an Indian state on the east coast) in spite of its agrarian economy, high level of poverty and low levels of industrialization and urbanization. This suggests that the perceived economic value of children has changed, and children being considered as economic assets by poor households have changed. Using data obtained from a field investigation in one district of Odisha, this paper examines the value of children as perceived by poor/non-poor. Results show that the perceived short-term benefits from having children have fallen, and that the perception of child labor as being economically valuable is no longer common. High aspirations for children's education have led to a gradual rise in the costs of raising children. Respondents report "economic burden" as the most common reason for not wanting to have another child, reflecting the classical "quantity-quality" trade-off.