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Individual and community levels of maternal autonomy and child undernutrition in India


  • Ramaprasad Rajaram

    () (Athena Infonomics)

  • Jessica M. Perkins

    () (Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies
    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
    Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Global Health)

  • William Joe

    () (University of Delhi Enclave)

  • S. V. Subramanian

    () (Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies
    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)


Abstract Objectives Investigate the relationship between maternal autonomy at multiple levels and the risk of child stunting, underweight, and wasting in India. Methods Data were from a 2005–2006 nationally representative, cross-sectional sample of 51,555 children under 5 years from 29 states in India. Multilevel, multivariable, logistic regression analyses were used to estimate the odds of child stunting, underweight, and wasting in relation to maternal autonomy in healthcare, movement, and money at the individual level and community level, while adjusting for several child, maternal, and household factors. Results When only adjusting for child age and sex, children in communities with a high proportion of women with autonomy in healthcare, or movement, or money, separately, had a lower risk of being stunted, underweight, or wasted, separately. However, adjusting for other explanatory factors attenuated these relationships and made them statistically insignificant. Individual maternal autonomy in any of the three domains was not associated with any of the outcomes. Conclusions The results suggest that caution should be taken when interpreting the direct relevance of maternal autonomy at both individual and community levels to measures of child undernutrition.

Suggested Citation

  • Ramaprasad Rajaram & Jessica M. Perkins & William Joe & S. V. Subramanian, 2017. "Individual and community levels of maternal autonomy and child undernutrition in India," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 62(2), pages 327-335, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:ijphth:v:62:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s00038-016-0850-8
    DOI: 10.1007/s00038-016-0850-8

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alderman, Harold & Lokshin, Michael & Radyakin, Sergiy, 2011. "Tall claims : mortality selection and the height of children," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5846, The World Bank.
    2. Alderman, Harold & Lokshin, Michael & Radyakin, Sergiy, 2011. "Tall claims: Mortality selection and the height of children in India," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 393-406.
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    4. Shelah Bloom & David Wypij & Monica Gupta, 2001. "Dimensions of women’s autonomy and the influence on maternal health care utilization in a north indian city," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 38(1), pages 67-78, February.
    5. Mahmud, Simeen & Shah, Nirali M. & Becker, Stan, 2012. "Measurement of Women’s Empowerment in Rural Bangladesh," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 610-619.
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