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Does TV ownership in India correspond to better family planning?

(Researchers) noted that the new diet of game shows, soap operas, and reality shows instantly became the villagers’ main source of information about the outside world—especially about India’s emerging urban ways of life... an eye-opener for millions of rural Indian women. They saw their urban sisters working outside the home, running businesses, controlling money, and—crucially—achieving these things by having fewer children. Here was TV showing women a world of possibilities beyond bearing and raising children—a world in which small families are the key to a better life.

Soap operas promote family planning. That’s what this article in Conservation magazine posits, written by Fred Pearce. A geographer arrived at the conclusion that TV ownership may explain India’s success at reducing its birth rates in some communities. How? Here’s what Pearce reports:

(Researchers) noted that the new diet of game shows, soap operas, and reality shows instantly became the villagers’ main source of information about the outside world—especially about India’s emerging urban ways of life… an eye-opener for millions of rural Indian women. They saw their urban sisters working outside the home, running businesses, controlling money, and—crucially—achieving these things by having fewer children. Here was TV showing women a world of possibilities beyond bearing and raising children—a world in which small families are the key to a better life.

Since the research was done by a geographer, we have to include at least a few maps.

India TV fertility
Conservation, Geocurrents
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About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.