Landholding and the Demand for Children in Rural Nepal

Melanie D. Frost, University of Southampton

The notion that fertility decisions may be related to arable landholding in agricultural areas of the developing world is long established. However, there is widespread disagreement about the importance of this link and even its existence. It is hypothesised that the lack of consensus is due to the methods used in previous attempts to solve this problem; a conclusion may be reached with judicious use of available data. This paper presents evidence for the relationship in Nepal. Two hypotheses are considered: (1) landholding and children can both act as forms of security/insurance and thus they are substitutes, (2) operational landholdings and children are complements since children are a source of relatively cheap/secure labour. Analysis using the Nepal Living Standards Surveys indicates that the relationship between landholding and fertility is as the two hypotheses predict; the effect of land ownership is negative and the effect of operational landholdings is positive.

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Presented in Session 143: Fertility, Maternal Health and Family Planning in Asia