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Why are adult women missing? Son preference and maternal survival in India

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  • Milazzo, Annamaria

Abstract

This paper is the first to show that morbidity and mortality among adult women in India can be partially explained by son preference. First, I show suggestive evidence that women with a first-born girl have lower survival. Second, consistent with prior literature, I find that having a first-born girl leads to fertility behaviors medically known to hurt women's survival. Third, I show new evidence of effects of a first-born girl on a mother's likelihood and severity of anemia. These outcomes are severely aggravated with each successive female birth. Back-of-the-envelope calculations indicate that these channels can explain over a quarter of the missing mothers with first-born girls. The paper does not find evidence of discrimination in the allocation of food or receipt of iron supplements, however, severe physical domestic violence increases significantly soon after the birth of a first daughter.

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  • Milazzo, Annamaria, 2018. "Why are adult women missing? Son preference and maternal survival in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 467-484.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:134:y:2018:i:c:p:467-484
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2018.06.009
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    3. Heath, Rachel & Tan, Xu, 2018. "Worth fighting for: Daughters improve their mothers' autonomy in South Asia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 255-271.
    4. S Anukriti & Sungoh Kwon & Nishith Prakash, 2018. "Household Savings and Marriage Payments: Evidence from Dowry in India," Working papers 2018-09, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    5. Asadullah, M. Niaz & Mansoor, Nazia & Randazzo, Teresa & Wahhaj, Zaki, 2021. "Is son preference disappearing from Bangladesh?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
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    7. Schott, Whitney & Aurino, Elisabetta & Penny, Mary E. & Behrman, Jere R., 2019. "The double burden of malnutrition among youth: Trajectories and inequalities in four emerging economies," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 80-91.
    8. Alexander Stimpfle & David Stadelmann, 2016. "Does Central Europe Import the Missing Women Phenomenon?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2016-04, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    9. Natalie Bau & Gaurav Khanna & Corinne Low & Manisha Shah & Sreyashi Sharmin & Alessandra Voena, 2021. "Women's Well-Being During a Pandemic and its Containment," NBER Working Papers 29121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Olivia Bertelli, 2015. "The more the merrier? Adjusting fertility to weather shocks," PSE Working Papers halshs-01226421, HAL.
    11. Adriana D. Kugler & Santosh Kumar, 2017. "Preference for Boys, Family Size, and Educational Attainment in India," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(3), pages 835-859, June.
    12. Olivia Bertelli, 2015. "The more the merrier? Adjusting fertility to weather shocks," Working Papers halshs-01226421, HAL.
    13. Milazzo, Annamaria, 2014. "Son preference, fertility and family structure : evidence from reproductive behavior among Nigerian women," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6869, The World Bank.
    14. Martin Flatø, 2018. "The Differential Mortality of Undesired Infants in Sub-Saharan Africa," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 55(1), pages 271-294, February.
    15. Victoria Baranov & Sonia Bhalotra & Pietro Biroli & Joanna Maselko, 2017. "Maternal Depression, Women’s Empowerment, and Parental Investment: Evidence from a Large Randomized Control Trial," CHILD Working Papers Series 60 JEL Classification: I1, Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic Economics (CHILD) - CCA.
    16. Lambert, Sylvie & Rossi, Pauline, 2016. "Sons as widowhood insurance: Evidence from Senegal," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 113-127.
    17. Victoria Baranov & Sonia Bhalotra & Pietro Biroli & Joanna Maselko, 2018. "Maternal Depression, Women’s Empowerment, and Parental Investment: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial," Working Papers 2018-021, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    18. Baranov, Victoria & Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Biroli, Pietro & Maselko, Joanna, 2017. "Maternal Depression, Women's Empowerment, and Parental Investment: Evidence from a Large Randomized Control Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 11187, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. Milazzo, Annamaria, 2018. "Why are adult women missing? Son preference and maternal survival in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 467-484.
    20. Aurino, Elisabetta, 2017. "Do boys eat better than girls in India? Longitudinal evidence on dietary diversity and food consumption disparities among children and adolescents," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 99-111.
    21. Anukriti, S & Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Tam, Hiu, 2016. "On the Quantity and Quality of Girls: New Evidence on Abortion, Fertility, and Parental Investments," IZA Discussion Papers 10271, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    22. S Anukriti & Sonia Bhalotra & Hiu Tam, 2018. "On the Quantity and Quality of Girls: Fertility, Parental Investments, and Mortality," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 950, Boston College Department of Economics.
    23. Maëlys de La Rupelle & Christelle Dumas, 2017. "Health consequences of sterilizations," WIDER Working Paper Series 125, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
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    25. Bhalotra, Sonia & Brulé, Rachel & Roy, Sanchari, 2020. "Women's inheritance rights reform and the preference for sons in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Son preference; Maternal morbidity and mortality; India; Missing women; Anemia; Fertility and birth spacing;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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