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Why Do Mothers Breastfeed Girls Less than Boys? Evidence and Implications for Child Health in India

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  • Seema Jayachandran
  • Ilyana Kuziemko

Abstract

Breastfeeding is negatively correlated with future fertility because nursing temporarily reduces fecundity and because mothers usually wean on becoming pregnant again. We model breastfeeding under son-biased fertility preferences and show that breastfeeding duration increases with birth order, especially near target family size; is lowest for daughters and children without older brothers because their parents try again for a son; and exhibits the largest gender gap near target family size, when gender is most predictive of subsequent fertility. Data from India confirm each prediction. Moreover, child survival exhibits similar patterns, especially in settings where the alternatives to breastmilk are unsanitary. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 126 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 1485-1538

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Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:126:y:2011:i:3:p:1485-1538

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  1. George B. Roberts, Chairman, Universities-National Bureau Committee for Economic Research, 1960. "Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number univ60-2, octubre-d.
  2. Pritchett, Lant H. & DEC, 1994. "Desired fertility and the impact of population policies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1273, The World Bank.
  3. Oster, Emily, 2009. "Does increased access increase equality? Gender and child health investments in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 62-76, May.
  4. Fred Arnold & Sunita Kishor & T. K. Roy, 2002. "Sex-Selective Abortions in India," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 759-785.
  5. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S143-62, August.
  6. Ansley J. Coale, 1960. "Introduction to "Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries"," NBER Chapters, in: Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries, pages 3-15 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1980. "Testing the Quantity-Quality Fertility Model: The Use of Twins as a Natural Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 227-40, January.
  9. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  10. Emily Oster, 2006. "Does Increased Access Increase Equality? Gender and Child Health Investments in India," NBER Working Papers 12743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Sylvie Lambert & Pauline Rossi, 2014. "Sons as Widowhood Insurance: Evidence from Senegal," PSE Working Papers halshs-00948098, HAL.
  2. Silvia Helena Barcellos & Leandro Carvalho & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2010. "Child Gender and Parental Investments in India: Are Boys and Girls Treated Differently?," Working Papers 756, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  3. Silvia H. Barcellos & Leandro Carvalho & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2012. "Child Gender And Parental Investments In India: Are Boys And Girls Treated Differently?," NBER Working Papers 17781, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Sylvie Lambert & Pauline Rossi, 2014. "Sons as Widowhood Insurance: Evidence from Senegal," Working Papers halshs-00948098, HAL.
  5. Ichino, Andrea & Lindström, Elly-Ann & Viviano, Eliana, 2011. "Hidden Consequences of a First-Born Boy for Mothers," IZA Discussion Papers 5649, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Zimmermann, Laura, 2012. "Remember When It Rained: The Elusiveness of Gender Discrimination in Indian School Enrollment," IZA Discussion Papers 6833, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Zimmermann, Laura, 2012. "It's a Boy! Women and Non-Monetary Benefits from a Son in India," IZA Discussion Papers 6847, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Adeline Delavande & Basit Zafar, 2013. "Gender discrimination and social identity: experimental evidence from urban Pakistan," Staff Reports 593, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  9. Arimoto, Yutaka & Ito, Seiro & Kudo, Yuya & Tsukada, Kazunari, 2013. "Stigma, social relationship and HIV testing in the workplace : evidence from South Africa," IDE Discussion Papers 386, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
  10. Novella, Rafael, 2013. "Parental education, gender preferences and child nutritional status: evidence from four developing countries," ISER Working Paper Series 2013-06, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  11. Chaudhuri, Sanjukta, 2013. "A Life Course Model of Human Rights Realization, Female Empowerment, and Gender Inequality in India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 55-70.
  12. Scott Fulford, 2013. "The changing geography of gender in India," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 833, Boston College Department of Economics.
  13. Abhishek Chakravarty, 2012. "Gender-discriminatory premarital investments, fertility preferences and breastfeeding in Egypt," Economics Discussion Papers 723, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  14. Jain, Tarun, 2009. "Where there is a will: Fertility behavior and sex bias in large families," MPRA Paper 16835, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. S. Anukriti, 2013. "The Fertility-Sex Ratio Tradeoff: Unintended Consequences of Financial Incentives," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 827, Boston College Department of Economics.
  16. Milazzo, Annamaria, 2014. "Why are adult women missing ? son preference and maternal survival in India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6802, The World Bank.
  17. Ichino, Andrea & Lindström, Elly-Ann & Viviano, Eliana, 2014. "Hidden consequences of a first-born boy for mothers," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(3), pages 274-278.
  18. Florencia Lopez Boo & Maria E. Canon, 2012. "Richer but more unequal? nutrition and caste gaps," Working Papers 2012-051, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  19. Michael Baker & Kevin Milligan, 2013. "Boy-Girl Differences in Parental Time Investments: Evidence from Three Countries," NBER Working Papers 18893, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Emla Fitzsimons & Marcos Vera-Hernandez, 2013. "Food for Thought? Breastfeeding and Child Development," IFS Working Papers W13/31, Institute for Fiscal Studies.

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