The study sought to examine the effects of culture on child preference and its implications for fertility behaviour as well as population growth in Cross River State, with a view to isolating factors which will be of importance to policy makers and planners in addressing high fertility levels. Data for the study was drawn from the 18 LGA’s of the State. A total of 1200 respondents were selected from the population of study (ever married persons). Data for the study was gathered using a combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques of data collection. The study found that because the society is patrilineal in nature, with descent traced only through the male patriarch, there was a strong preference for male children, which in turn affects the fertility behavior of the people. The Pearson chi-square calculated for child preference and fertility behaviour revealed a likelihood ratio of 29.49; while the result for family size and fertility was 103.14 and 199.53 for socio-cultural norms and values. These results indicate that, the calculated chi-square for all the variables is higher than the table chi-square. Thus the stated hypotheses were accepted. Again, the multiple regression analysis also showed that of all the independent variables analyzed, child preference had a regression weight of 1.292 and a correlation coefficient of r=0.89, which indicates that there was a strong preference by couples for male children, with a resultant increase in the actual family size, thus contributing to the continuous growth in the population of the state. This situation, the study found, is given impetus to by the cultural norms and values prevalent in the State, which enhances and sustains male child preference. The study calls for a comprehensive development of the state, especially the rural areas, as one of the remedies for curbing those aspects of the culture that support and sustain male child preference and high fertility.
Igbolo Magdalene Agbor (Ph.D)
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Science, University of Abuja, P.M.B 117, FCT, Abuja, Nigeria.
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