Hindu-Muslim fertility differential in India: A cohort approach

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Research Article

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Journal of Biosocial Science


Hindus and Muslims together account for 94% of the population of India. The fertility differential between these two religious groups is a sensitive and hotly debated issue in political and academic circles. However, the debate is mostly based on a period approach to fertility change, and there have been some problems with the reliability of period fertility data. This study investigated cohort fertility patterns among Hindus and Muslims and the causes of the relatively higher level of fertility among Muslims. Data from the three National Family Health Surveys conducted in India since the early 1990s were analysed using a six-parameter special form of the Gompertz model and multiple linear regression models. The results show a gap of more than 1.3 children per woman between those Muslim and Hindu women who ended/will end their reproductive period in the calendar years 1993 to 2025. The socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of Muslims explain 31.2% of the gap in fertility between Muslims and Hindus, while the desire for more children among Muslims explains an additional 18.2% of the gap in fertility.

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