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Folmar, Steven J. (1992). Variation and Change in Fertility in West-Central Nepal. Human Ecology, 20, 225-248.


Fertility decisions were considered complex and a mixture of conscious and unconscious decisions. A household census was conducted among 750 caste Hindu people in Nadipur (an old agricultural neighborhood) near Pokhara in West Central Nepal: large-farm high castes, small-farm high castes, and low castes. Marriage and pregnancy histories were collected from 498 married women aged over 15 years. Castes were differentiated by socioeconomic factors, marriage rules, ritual purity, and status designation achieved through individual deeds and caste affiliation. Small-farm high caste had the lowest fertility. Economic class was determined by land, livestock, and home ownership and income. The ordinary least squares regression model was used to evaluate the importance of social and economic status as fertility determinants before and after modernization (women aged 15-49 years and women over 50 years in 1979-80). The results showed that among women aged over 50 years (125 persons), large-farm high caste women and low caste women had significantly more children than small-farm high caste women. Infant mortality was positively, significantly statistically related to children ever born (CEB). Another model, including marriage age and marital status, found that late marriage age and widowhood significantly reduced CEB. Among women aged 15-49 years (373 persons), this model found that the influence of socioeconomic factors on fertility changed: woman's age and child mortality had significant, positive effects on fertility. Large-farm high caste women continued to have higher fertility, but the fertility gap between low caste women and small-farm high caste women closed. With the inclusion of sterilization and marital status in the model, the r2 increased from .633 to .697, but large-farm high caste women were no longer significant and urban residence increased to a significant level of impact on CEB. Low caste status did not affect fertility status. Sterilization had a positive, significant effect. The analysis of age-specific fertility in 4 time periods showed temporary and permanent effects of social change on fertility of the 3 groups. At the beginning of modernization, fertility increased for all 3 groups. Among small-farm high caste women there was a change in timing of births, reflected in a convex curve shape changing to concave. The low cast fertility pattern was changing from convex to linear. There were no changes among the fertility curves of the large-farm high caste women. The conclusion was that conscious limitation of family size occurred first among those already limiting.


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Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Human Ecology


Folmar, Steven J.