Daughter Preference and Contraceptive-use in Matrilineal Tribal Societies in Meghalaya, India|
Narzary, Pralip Kumar & Sharma, Shilpi Mishra
Although son preference in patrilineal society is an established fact, daughter preference in matrilineal society
is not thoroughly examined. Very few studies have been carried out on the issue. This paper attempts
to explore the daughter preference and contraceptive-use in matrilineal tribal societies in Meghalaya, India.
Data from the National Family Health Survey 1998-1999 have been used in this study because, among the
large-scale surveys, only this dataset allows identification of matrilineal sample. Mean, percentage, and
standard deviation are computed in the present study. Further, the data have been cross-tabulated, and logistic
regression has been run through SPSS (version 15). Among the ever-married matrilineal women, 17%
desired more sons than daughters but 18.2% desired more daughters than sons. About 11% of ever-married
women could achieve their desired sex composition of children. However, a very striking finding suggests
that, even after achieving desired sex composition of children, as high as 61.8% of women were still not
using contraception mainly because of programme factors while one-fourth were still depending on temporary
methods. The rest 13.2% adopted terminal method of contraception, which calls for immediate
attention of planners. With the increase in the number of sons but without daughter, contraceptive-use
drastically decreased. The most desired sex composition of children seems to be two daughters and a son.
Absence of daughter with increase in the total number of sons increased the desire for additional children.
Every woman with two or more sons but without daughter wanted the next child to be a daughter. Thus,
there are ample evidences to draw the conclusion that there is, in fact, a daughter preference in the matrilineal
tribal societies in Meghalaya, India. Policy-makers may, thus, target the women who have achieved
fertility and should ensure that daughter preference does not lead to the negligence to sons.
Contraceptives; Daughter preference; Matriliny; India