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Droughts and Gender Bias in Infant Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa

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  • Flatø, Martin

    ()
    (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)

  • Kotsadam, Andreas

    ()
    (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)

Abstract

Are African girls more exposed than boys to risk of infant mortality during crises and if so, is the difference due to discrimination? To answer these questions, we combine retrospective fertility data on over 1.5 million births from Demographic and Health Surveys with data on rainfall variability and find a substantial gender difference favouring boys following droughts. We substantiate that this difference has social determinants by showing that the difference is only present in contexts in which we would expect discrimination of daughters. The difference is only present in communities with strong preferences for sons and in areas where fertility desires are low. In areas with low levels of female employment there is a large gender gap following droughts, especially for infants with mothers who are not working. In contrast, there is no gender difference in infant mortality after droughts in areas where many women work, irrespective of the employment status of the individual mother under consideration. No difference is found across mothers with different levels of education, perhaps due to the lower fertility preferences of more educated women. In total, the results indicate a large and socially founded gender bias in infant mortality after crises. They also shed light on factors behind the African exceptionalism of little gender discrimination in infant mortality. As communities with strong son preferences, low fertility preferences, and low female employment display gender bias after crises in Africa, the results are consistent with factors explaining differences in gender biases between countries across the world.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Oslo University, Department of Economics in its series Memorandum with number 02/2014.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: 13 Feb 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2014_002

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Postal: Department of Economics, University of Oslo, P.O Box 1095 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway
Phone: 22 85 51 27
Fax: 22 85 50 35
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Web page: http://www.oekonomi.uio.no/indexe.html
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Keywords: Rainfall; Drought; Gender; Infant mortality; Africa;

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  1. Burke, Marshall & Gong, Erick & Jones, Kelly M., 2013. "Income Shocks and HIV in Africa," MPRA Paper 55392, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Esther Duflo, 2012. "Women Empowerment and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1051-79, December.
  3. James Fenske, 2012. "African Polygamy: Past and Present," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2012-20, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Kenneth Harttgen & Stephan Klasen & Sebastian Vollmer, 2013. "Economic Growth and Child Undernutrition in sub-Saharan Africa," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 39(3), pages 397-412, 09.
  5. Duflo, Esther, 2012. "Women's Empowerment and Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 8734, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Björkman-Nyqvist, Martina, 2013. "Income shocks and gender gaps in education: Evidence from Uganda," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 237-253.
  9. Siwan Anderson & Debraj Ray, 2010. "Missing Women: Age and Disease," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1262-1300.
  10. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1.
  11. John Bongaarts, 2010. "The causes of educational differences in fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 8(1), pages 31-50.
  12. Roland Pongou, 2013. "Why Is Infant Mortality Higher in Boys Than in Girls? A New Hypothesis Based on Preconception Environment and Evidence From a Large Sample of Twins," Demography, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 421-444, April.
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