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Child Gender and Parental Investments in India: Are Boys and Girls Treated Differently?

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  • Silvia Helena Barcellos
  • Leandro S. Carvalho
  • Adriana Lleras-Muney

Abstract

Previous research has not always found that boys and girls are treated differently in rural India. However estimates of the effect of gender on parental investments could be biased if girls end up in larger families due to son-biased stopping rules. Using a novel identification strategy that exploits that gender at conception is random, we document that boys receive more childcare time than girls, they are breastfed longer and they get more vitamin supplementation. Compared to other developing countries, boys have an advantage in height and weight relative to girls. Neither greater needs nor anticipated family size explain the results.

Suggested Citation

  • Silvia Helena Barcellos & Leandro S. Carvalho & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2014. "Child Gender and Parental Investments in India: Are Boys and Girls Treated Differently?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 157-189, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:6:y:2014:i:1:p:157-89
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.6.1.157
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Tarozzi, Alessandro & Mahajan, Aprajit, 2007. "Child Nutrition in India in the Nineties," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(3), pages 441-486, April.
    3. Nancy Qian, 2008. "Missing Women and the Price of Tea in China: The Effect of Sex-Specific Earnings on Sex Imbalance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1251-1285.
    4. Seema Jayachandran & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2009. "Life Expectancy and Human Capital Investments: Evidence from Maternal Mortality Declines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 349-397.
    5. Lata Gangadharan & Pushkar Maitra, 2003. "Testing for Son Preference in South Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 12(3), pages 371-416, September.
    6. 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.
    7. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "The Demand for Sons," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1085-1120.
    8. Tarozzi, Alessandro, 2008. "Growth reference charts and the nutritional status of Indian children," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 455-468, December.
    9. Sharon Maccini & Dean Yang, 2009. "Under the Weather: Health, Schooling, and Economic Consequences of Early-Life Rainfall," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 1006-1026, June.
    10. 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.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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