Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 929–959 | Cite as

Religion, Contraceptive Method Mix, and Son Preference Among Bengali-Speaking Community of Indian Subcontinent

  • Saswata Ghosh
  • Aparajita Chattopadhyay


This paper examines the influence of religion on contraceptive method mix in the context of son preference among Bengali-speaking population of eastern India (i.e., West Bengal and Tripura) and Bangladesh. In spite of cultural similarity and parallel programmatic approach to family planning in these two distinct geopolitical spaces, differential use of contraception is evident. Using National Family Health Survey (2005–2006) and Bangladesh Demographic Health Survey (2007) and by employing sequential logit model, the paper finds evidence of latent son preference in adoption of modern contraception in Bengali-speaking Hindu and Muslim communities of eastern India. However, such practice is observed only among Hindus in Bangladesh. The paper further argues that although diffusion of the culture of son preference cuts across religious groups among Bengali-speaking community in eastern India, religious identity dominates over region in Bangladesh, encouraging minority Hindus to adopt a distinct pattern of contraceptive behavior with reference to sons. Such finding calls for further research in understanding the pros and cons of behavioral diffusion in majority–minority population mix in similar tradition and culture.


Bengali Contraception Religion Son preference Sequential logit model Eastern India Bangladesh 



The present study is based on open-access secondary data sources. The authors acknowledge MeasureDHS for sharing data. They are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for providing substantial and critical comments. They also acknowledge the editorial help of Ms. Chhavi Sodhi and Mr. D. Ganguly for fine-tuning the write-up.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Competing interest

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Development Studies Kolkata (IDSK)KolkataIndia
  2. 2.International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)MumbaiIndia

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