Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



The Desire for Additional Children among Pakistani Women: TheDeterminants

It is generally argued that the traditional social andeconomic structure of the Pakistani society keeps the value of childrenrelatively high and the demand for contraception relatively low,resulting in the persistence of high fenility in the country.Nevertheless, there is evidence of a latent demand for fertility controlamong women in all strata of the population. This study examines thedeterminants ()f the desire for additional children for currentlymarried women in Pakistan, drawing data from the Population, LabourForce and Migration (PLM) Survey of 197.9-80. The variations in thepatterns of desired fertility and their relationship to the factors ofeconomic and social change – such as education, husband’s occupation,household income, child education, and work – are also analyzed. Theanalysis is conducted using logit regression models. The basic analysisof desired fertility reveals that a significant minority of currentlymarried fecund women in all subgroups want no more children, and thatthis is a majority for women with four children or more. Among thefactors determining the desire for no more children, the major findingsare that besides the strong and alI-pervasive effects of the life-cyclefactors (such as parity, age, and the number of living son), fenilitydesires of urban and rural women are determined differently in responseto the social and economic factors. While a higher percentage of ruralwomen want more children, their desire for no more children issignificantly related to such factors as house.hold income, nuclearfamily living, and child schooling – factors that are unrelated to urbanwomen’s fertility desires. For urban women, alongwith the advantage ofbeing in a more modem, non-agrarian setting, an exposure to urban livingand at least secondary schooling are associated with wanting no morechildren. The likely effective steps suggested to achieve a reduceddesire for additional children are an expansion in education beyond theprimary levels, the development of an opportunity structure for ruralwomen, and an improvement in the targeting of programme services forthose who have the potential motivation to limit fenility.

Naushin Mahmood

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