Why Do Mothers Breastfeed Girls Less Than Boys? Evidence and Implications for Child Health in India
AbstractMedical research indicates that breastfeeding suppresses post-natal fertility. We model the implications for breastfeeding decisions and test the model's predictions using survey data from India. First, we find that breastfeeding increases with birth order, since mothers near or beyond their desired total fertility are more likely to make use of the contraceptive properties of nursing. Second, given a preference for having sons, mothers with no or few sons want to conceive again and thus limit their breastfeeding. We indeed find that daughters are weaned sooner than sons, and, moreover, for both sons and daughters, having few or no older brothers results in earlier weaning. Third, these gender effects peak as mothers approach their target family size, when their decision about future childbearing (and therefore breastfeeding) is highly marginal and most sensitive to considerations such as ideal sex composition. Because breastfeeding protects against water- and food-borne disease, our model also makes predictions regarding health outcomes. We find that child-mortality patterns mirror those of breastfeeding with respect to gender and its interactions with birth order and ideal family size. Our results suggest that the gender gap in breastfeeding explains 14 percent of excess female child mortality in India, or about 22,000 "missing girls" each year.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7321.
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820
Other versions of this item:
- Seema Jayachandran & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2011. "Why Do Mothers Breastfeed Girls Less than Boys? Evidence and Implications for Child Health in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1485-1538.
- Seema Jayachandran & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2009. "Why Do Mothers Breastfeed Girls Less Than Boys? Evidence and Implications for Child Health in India," Working Papers id:2041, eSocialSciences.
- Seema Jayachandran & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2009. "Why Do Mothers Breastfeed Girls Less Than Boys? Evidence and Implications for Child Health in India," NBER Working Papers 15041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- H0 - Public Economics - - General
- J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
- O12 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
- O15 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-07-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-CWA-2009-07-03 (Central & Western Asia)
- NEP-DEV-2009-07-03 (Development)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- 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, .
- 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.
- 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.
- Pritchett, Lant H. & DEC, 1994. "Desired fertility and the impact of population policies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1273, The World Bank.
- 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.
- Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1976.
"Child Endowments, and the Quantity and Quality of Children,"
NBER Working Papers
0123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Behrman, Jere R., 1988. "Nutrition, health, birth order and seasonality : Intrahousehold allocation among children in rural India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 43-62, February.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Ichino, Andrea & Lindström, Elly-Ann & Viviano, Eliana, 2011. "Hidden consequences of a first-born boy for mothers," CEPR Discussion Papers 8354, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Ichino, Andrea & Lindström, Elly-Anne & Viviano, Eliana, 2011. "Hidden consequences of a first-born boy for mothers," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2011:9, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
- Scott Fulford, 2013. "The changing geography of gender in India," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 833, Boston College Department of Economics.
- 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.
- 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).
- Arimoto, Yutaka & Ito, Seiro & Kudo, Yuya & Tsukada, Kazunari, 2013.
"Stigma, Social Relationship and HIV Testing in the Workplace: Evidence from South Africa,"
CEI Working Paper Series
2012-06, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
- 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).
- Jain, Tarun, 2009. "Where there is a will: Fertility behavior and sex bias in large families," MPRA Paper 16835, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- 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.
- 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.
- Adeline Delavande & Basit Zafar, 2013. "Gender discrimination and social identity: experimental evidence from urban Pakistan," Staff Reports 593, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
- 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.
- 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).
- Emla Fitzsimons & Marcos Vera-Hernandez, 2013. "Food for Thought? Breastfeeding and Child Development," IFS Working Papers W13/31, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
- Abhishek Chakravarty, 2012. "Gender-discriminatory premarital investments, fertility preferences and breastfeeding in Egypt," Economics Discussion Papers 723, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.