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Maternal Son Preference in India: Exploring its Determinants

Vol 8 , Issue 2 , July - December 2021 | Pages: 99-119 | Research Paper  

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Author Details ( * ) denotes Corresponding author

1. * Saswati Chaudhuri, Associate Professor, Economics, St. Xavier's College, Kolkata, West Bengal, India (
2. Samriddhi Nahata, Student, Economics, St. Xavier's College (Autonomous), Kolkata, West Bengal, India (

Gender discrimination through a strong preference for male child is pervasive in Indian families which leads to biases in household allocation of resources and opportunities. This paper aims to examine the determinants of son preference in India through an empirical analysis. NFHS-4 state-level data is used to understand the causal factors of maternal son preference at different levels. Using multiple linear regression models, it is concluded that factors like belonging to a specific religion, female employment, and mother’s education are statistically significant and a rise in them is seen to lower maternal son preference. However, it is seen that higher the population falls in the lowest wealth quintile, higher they exhibit maternal son preference. The study gives policy implications for task-specific training along with female employment generation schemes and technical skill development along with education. The government should introduce developmental schemes to uplift people from the depths of poverty.


Son preference; Gender inequality; Employment; Education; Wealth.

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