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‘Ultramodern contraception’ re-examined: cultural dissent, or son preference?

Husain, Zakir and Ghosh, Saswata and Dutta, Mousumi (2012): ‘Ultramodern contraception’ re-examined: cultural dissent, or son preference?

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Literature on family planning considers natural (also called traditional) contraceptives to be ‘ineffective’ because its users are not motivated to control their fertility. While this is true for initial stages of fertility transition, studies have reported that it is women belonging to urban, educated and affluent households - propelled by a reaction against Western technology – who are the main users of natural contraceptives. This elite group has both the skill and knowledge to use such methods effectively. This has led to the coining of the term ‘ultramodern contraception’. This paper critically re-examines the ‘ultramodern contraception’ theory, and argues that it has certain limitations. Analyzing of three rounds of National Family Health Survey data for India, we argue that reliance on such methods may be a transient phase in the reproductive cycle of women, specifically before the desired gender parity of children is attained. Moreover, it is a manifestation of son preference.

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