Saturday, June 15, 2013

Television and Fertility in India

Yet another study shows that the arrival of television in rural communities leads to a falling birth rate. This has been shown quite conclusively in Brazil and Mexico, where most researchers think the impact of telenovelas (soap operas) was profound. And now India:
Over a three-year period, academics Robert Jensen and Emily Oster researched rural villages in five Indian states. They found that once the village got cable TV access, fertility declined within a year . . . .

Though Jensen and Oster’s research in India didn’t focus on the impact of a single type of program, they too conclude that Indian soap operas, which tend to feature independent urban women, might be the critical factor in driving down birth rates. Exposure to TV also tended to accompany a shift in values—fewer rural women who had TV said they found domestic violence acceptable or expressed a preference for male children.
I don't know whether to be encouraged by this, because of falling fertility and women's empowerment and so on, or discouraged that it is so easy to manipulate people through television.

Meanwhile, if you are really worried about the human impact on the planet it seems that you should be supporting the expansion of cable networks rather than Planned Parenthood.

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