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Does Increased Access Increase Equality? Gender and Child Health Investments in India

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  • Emily Oster

Abstract

Policymakers often argue that increasing access to health care is one crucial avenue for decreasing gender inequality in the developing world. Although this is generally true in the cross section, time series evidence does not always point to the same conclusion. This paper analyzes the relationship between access to child health investments and gender inequality in those health investments in India. A simple theory of gender-biased parental investment suggests that gender inequality may actually be non-monotonically related to access to health investments. At low levels of availability, investment in girls and boys is low but equal; as availability increases, boys get investments first, creating inequality. As availability increases further, girls also receive investments and equality is restored. I test this theory using data on the relationship between gender balance in vaccinations and the availability of "Health Camps" in India. I find support for a non-monotonic relationship. This result may shed light on the contrast between the cross-sectional and time-series evidence on gender and development, and may provide guidance for health policy in developing countries.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12743.

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Date of creation: Dec 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12743

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  1. Paula Griffiths & Zoƫ Matthews & Andrew Hinde, 2000. "Understanding the sex ratio in India: A simulation approach," Demography, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 477-488, November.
  2. Vinod Mishra & T. K. Roy & Robert D. Retherford, 2004. "Sex Differentials in Childhood Feeding, Health Care, and Nutritional Status in India," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(2), pages 269-295.
  3. Peter Mayer, 1999. "India's Falling Sex Ratios," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 25(2), pages 323-343.
  4. Chatterjee, Meera, 1990. "Indian women, health, and productivity," Policy Research Working Paper Series 442, The World Bank.
  5. Kanbur, Ravi & Haddad, Lawrence, 1994. "Are Better Off Households More Unequal or Less Unequal?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(3), pages 445-58, July.
  6. Borooah, Vani K., 2004. "Gender bias among children in India in their diet and immunisation against disease," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(9), pages 1719-1731, May.
  7. Lupin Rahman & Vijayendra Rao, 2004. "The Determinants of Gender Equity in India: Examining Dyson and Moore's Thesis with New Data," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(2), pages 239-268.
  8. Rohini Pande, 2003. "Selective gender differences in childhood nutrition and immunization in rural India: The role of siblings," Demography, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 395-418, August.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Singh, Ashish, 2010. "Inequality of opportunity in Indian children: the case of immunization and nutrition," MPRA Paper 32505, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. M. Bratti & M. Mendola, 2012. "Parental Health and Child Schooling," CHILD Working Papers Series 4, Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic Economics (CHILD) - CCA.
  4. Jinkook Lee & Regina A. Shih & Kevin Feeney & Kenneth M. Langa, 2011. "Cognitive Health of Older Indians: Individual and Geographic Determinants of Female Disadvantage," Working Papers 889, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  5. Santosh, Kumar, 2009. "Childhood Immunization, Mortality and Human Capital Accumulation: Micro-Evidence from India," MPRA Paper 27127, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. 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.
  7. Stephan Klasen & Simon Lange, 2011. "Getting Progress Right: Measuring Progress Towards the MDGs Against Historical Trends," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 87, Courant Research Centre PEG, revised 20 Feb 2012.
  8. Emily Oster & Rebecca Thornton, 2009. "Menstruation and Education in Nepal," NBER Working Papers 14853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Barrera-Osorio, Felipe & Bertrand, Marianne & L. Linden, Leigh & Perez-Calle, Francisco, 2008. "Conditional cash transfers in education : design features, peer and sibling effects evidence from a randomized experiment in Colombia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4580, The World Bank.
  10. Rubiana Chamarbagwala & Martin Ranger, 2010. "A Multinomial Model of Fertility Choice and Offspring Sex Ratios in India," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(3), pages 417-438.
  11. Shinsuke Tanaka, 2008. "Access to Health Infrastructure and Child Health Development: Evidence from Post-Apartheid South Africa," ISER Discussion Paper 0768, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University, revised Jan 2010.
  12. 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.
  13. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Pogge, Thomas, 2012. "Ethical and Economic Perspectives on Global Health Interventions," IZA Policy Papers 38, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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