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Unintended Consequences: Regulating Fertility Through Celibacy In Sama, Nepal

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Chapter Summary

This chapter documents fertility and family planning in Sama, the largest village in Nubri. While modern contraception was virtually unknown during the 1990s, the total fertility rate was a relatively modest 5.3 births per woman. This case study explores how a variety of social and cultural factors helped regulate fertility and population growth in a pre-transitional society. As in Kyirong, fertility was not as high as we would expect among people who value children but do not have access to modern methods of contraception. Marriage, or more accurately the high frequency of female non-marriage, acted to restrain aggregate fertility. But in contrast to Kyirong, it was not polyandry that prevented many women from marrying. By designating one daughter to be a nun, parents retained her services within the household thereby ensuring a caretaker in their old-age. This was a household-level strategy for managing offspring with discernible demographic implications.

Keywords: family planning; fertility; marriage; population growth; Sama



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