Sibship size and young women’s transitions to adulthood in India

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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In India, a substantial proportion of young people are growing up in smaller families with fewer siblings than earlier generations of young people. Studies exploring the associations between declines in sibship size and young people’s life experiences are limited. Drawing on data from a sub-nationally representative study conducted in 2006–08 of over 50,000 youths in India, this paper examines the associations between surviving sibship size and young women’s (age 20–24) transitions to adulthood. Young women who reported no or a single surviving sibling were categorized as those with a small surviving sibship size, and those who reported two or more surviving siblings as those with a large surviving sibship size. Bivariate and multivariate regression analyses were conducted to ascertain the relationship between sibship size and outcome indicators. Analysis was also done separately for low- and high-fertility settings. Small sibship size tended to have a positive influence in many ways on young women’s chances of making successful transitions to adulthood. Young women with fewer siblings were more likely than others to report secondary school completion, participation in vocational skills training programmes, experience of gender egalitarian socialization practices, adherence to gender egalitarian norms, exercise of pre-marital agency and small family size preferences. These associations were more apparent in low- than high-fertility settings.