Dissertation Abstracts

Perception, Extreme Weather Events and Fertility Preference: A Study on a Vulnerable Population in Bangladesh

Author: Atiqul Haq, Shah Md. , shahatiq1@yahoo.com
Department: Asian and International Studies
University: City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Supervisor: Prof. Graeme Lang
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Extreme weather events , Fertility Preference , Perception , Population Dynamics
Areas of Research: Population , Environment and Society , Futures Research

Abstract

This study tried to explore how people living in a vulnerable area perceived the relation between the impacts of extreme weather events (floods) and fertility preference, and how perception varies regarding their socio-demographic backgrounds. This study hypothesized that people’s experiences and perception of the adverse impacts of extreme weather events (floods) may relate to their level of concern about climate change. If people think that they confront extreme weather events (floods) frequently and they are at high risk of suffering the adverse impacts, they may believe that there are advantages in having more children, especially sons. On the other hand, if people think that they usually experience adverse impacts of extreme weather events (floods) which are due to human activities and having a large family size, they may reduce their fertility preference.
To test the arguments above, this research selected for in-depth study a village named Sharat Pur in Bangladesh, which is affected by floods almost every year. As a highly vulnerable area to flooding, European Union (EU) and different NGOs have various projects about the vulnerability and disaster management in the village. According to a family planning worker who keep records of the population living in the village, the total population of Sharat Pur in 2011 was 808 – 403 males and 405 females (including children). I and my assistants conducted field research in 2012 and collected relevant information from 158 respondents (60 males and 98 females), with the minimum age of 16 years. Statistical analysis included ANOVA tests, correlation and factor analysis to test hypotheses and explain the causal mechanisms. I also used cross tabulations and paraphrased translations of key information mentioned by respondents. They helped to identify the factors influencing people’s perception about the impacts of extreme weather events and their fertility preference.
Findings of this study showed significant variations of perceptions based on socio-demographic backgrounds. Those over 65 years and other age groups were not concerned about the adverse impacts of extreme weather events (floods) and having a large family size. Hindus, the unmarried, those 26-35 years and those 36-45 were more concerned about the adverse impacts of extreme floods and having a large family size. Although many people perceive a large family size as disadvantageous during flood periods, most people in the village strongly prefer to have sons more than daughters. Religious values also influence many people living in vulnerable areas to perceive the occurrence of extreme weather events and having more children/sons as the wish of God. As a result, a high expectation of having sons to tackle the impacts of extreme flood events may influence fertility and contribute to further increases of population in Bangladesh. Developing countries like Bangladesh have a target to reach Millennium Development Goals by stabilizing their population and lowering fertility levels. This study considered flood as one of the extreme weather events. There are other extreme weather events such as cyclones, drought etc faced by people living in different areas in Bangladesh which were not covered in this study.

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