Rising cesarean deliveries in India: medical compulsions or convenience of the affluent?

Health Care Women Int. 2021;42(4-6):611-635. doi: 10.1080/07399332.2020.1798963. Epub 2020 Aug 11.


From 2005-06 to 2015-16, proportion of cesarean deliveries in total deliveries has almost doubled in India. In this paper, we study changes in prevalence of cesarean deliveries across different social-economic groups and study factors affecting odds of undergoing cesarean delivery. The present paper was based on National Family Health Surveys and employs logistic regression. We find that rise in cesarean deliveries has been across social groups, religions, urban/rural India, wealth groups, though increase has not been uniform. Further, many economically affluent states have high proportion of cesarean deliveries. We find that women delivering at private hospitals had significantly higher odds of opting for cesarean delivery. Further, women belonging to rich households were more likely to go through surgery for birth. In case of earlier terminated pregnancies, odds were higher too. The higher odds of cesarean sections in the relatively affluent geographic regions, richer households and private institutions indicate that these procedures may be driven by non-medical reasons in many cases, pointing toward the use of surgical procedures for the convenience.

MeSH terms

  • Cesarean Section*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Private*
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Parturition
  • Pregnancy
  • Rural Population