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Sibling death clustering in India: state dependence "versus" unobserved heterogeneity


  • Wiji Arulampalam
  • Sonia Bhalotra


Data from a range of environments indicate that the incidence of death is not randomly distributed across families but, rather, that there is a clustering of death among siblings. A natural explanation of this would be that there are (observed or unobserved) differences across families, e.g. in genetic frailty, education or living standards. Another hypothesis that is of considerable interest for both theory and policy is that there is a "causal" process whereby the death of a child influences the risk of death of the succeeding child in the family. Drawing language from the literature on the economics of unemployment, the causal effect is referred to here as state dependence (or scarring). The paper investigates the extent of state dependence in India, distinguishing this from family level risk factors that are common to siblings. It offers some methodological innovations on previous research. Estimates are obtained for each of three Indian states, which exhibit dramatic differences in socio-economic and demographic variables. The results suggest a significant degree of state dependence in each of the three regions. Eliminating scarring, it is estimated, would reduce the incidence of infant mortality (among children who are born after the first child) by 9.8% in the state of Uttar Pradesh, 6.0% in West Bengal and 5.9% in Kerala. Copyright 2006 Royal Statistical Society.

Suggested Citation

  • Wiji Arulampalam & Sonia Bhalotra, 2006. "Sibling death clustering in India: state dependence "versus" unobserved heterogeneity," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(4), pages 829-848.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jorssa:v:169:y:2006:i:4:p:829-848

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. F. Thomas Juster & Richard Suzman, 1995. " An Overview of the Health and Retirement Study," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30, pages s7-s56.
    2. Lynn, Peter & Clarke, Paul, 2001. "Separating refusal bias and non-contact bias: evidence from UK national surveys," ISER Working Paper Series 2001-24, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
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    Cited by:

    1. Makate, Marshall & Makate, Clifton, 2016. "Is poor sanitation killing more children in rural Zimbabwe? Results of propensity score matching method," MPRA Paper 72831, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 02 Aug 2016.
    2. Bas Klaauw & Limin Wang, 2011. "Child mortality in rural India," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(2), pages 601-628, April.
    3. Bhalotra, Sonia & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese, 2014. "Life Expectancy and Mother-Baby Interventions. Evidence from A Historical Trial," Ruhr Economic Papers 504, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    4. repec:zbw:rwirep:0504 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Saha, U.R., 2012. "Econometric models of child mortality dynamics in rural Bangladesh," Other publications TiSEM f734b639-9696-480e-96f0-8, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    6. Sonia Bhalotra & Martin Karlsson & Therese Nilsson, 2014. "Life Expectancy and Mother-Baby Interventions. Evidence from A Historical Trial," Ruhr Economic Papers 0504, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    7. van Soest, A.H.O. & Saha, U.R., 2012. "Birth Spacing, Child Survival and Fertility Decisions : Analysis of Causal Mechanismsa," Discussion Paper 2012-018, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    8. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese, 2015. "Infant Health and Longevity: Evidence from a Historical Trial in Sweden," IZA Discussion Papers 8969, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Saha, U.R. & van Soest, A.H.O., 2009. "Infant Mortality in Rural Bangladesh : State Dependence vs. Unobserved Heterogeneity," Discussion Paper 2009-26, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    10. Saha, U.R. & van Soest, A.H.O. & Bijwaard, G.E., 2012. "Cause-specific Neonatal Deaths : Levels, Trend and Determinants in Rural Bangladesh, 1987-2005," Discussion Paper 2012-016, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    11. Diane Dancer & Anu Rammohan & Murray D. Smith, 2008. "Infant mortality and child nutrition in Bangladesh," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(9), pages 1015-1035.
    12. Sonia Bhalotra & Martin Karlsson & Therese Nilsson, 2014. "Life Expectancy and Mother-Baby Interventions," CINCH Working Paper Series 1404, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    13. van Soest, A.H.O. & Saha, U.R., 2012. "Does Family Planning Reduce Infant Mortality? Evidence from Surveillance Data in Matlab, Bangladesh," Discussion Paper 2012-019, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    14. Marco Alfano, 2014. "Daughters, Dowries, Deliveries:The Effect of Marital Payments on Fertility Choices in India," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1413, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    15. Singh, Prashant Kumar & Parasuraman, Sulabha, 2014. "‘Looking beyond the male–female dichotomy’ – Sibling composition and child immunization in India, 1992–2006," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 145-153.

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