Fertility Decline, Gender Composition of Families and Expectations of Old Age Support

Keera Allendorf, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Recent fertility declines in non-Western countries may have the potential to transform gender systems. One pathway for such transformations is the creation of substantial proportions of families with children of only one gender. Such families, particularly those with only daughters, may facilitate greater symmetry between sons and daughters. This paper explores whether such shifts influence expectations of old age support in India. In keeping with largely patrilineal family systems, old age support is customarily provided by sons, not daughters, in India. Using data from the 2005 Indian Human Development Survey, I find that women with sons overwhelmingly expect old age support from a son. By contrast, women with only daughters are much more likely to expect support from a daughter or someone else other than a son. These findings suggest that shifts in the gender composition of children may present challenges to patriarchal patterns of old age support.

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Presented in Poster Session 5