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Discrimination Begins in the Womb: Evidence of Sex-Selective Prenatal Investments

Listed author(s):
  • Prashant Bharadwaj
  • Leah K. Lakdawala
Registered author(s):

    This paper investigates whether boys receive preferential prenatal treatment in a setting where son preference is present. Using micro health data from India, we highlight sex-selective prenatal investments as a new channel via which parents practice discriminatory behavior. We find that mothers visit antenatal clinics and receive tetanus shots more frequently when pregnant with a boy. Preferential prenatal treatment of males is greater in regions known to have strong son preference and among women whose previous children are female. We address other mechanisms such as selective recall, medical complications that might cause male fetuses to receive greater prenatal care in general, son preference-based fertility stopping rules and biases due to sex-selective abortions. Our calculations suggest that sex-selective prenatal care in maternal tetanus vaccination explains between 2.6–7.2 percent of excess female neonatal mortality in India.

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    File URL: http://jhr.uwpress.org/cgi/reprint/48/1/71
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    Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

    Volume (Year): 48 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 71-113

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    Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:48:y:2013:i:1:p:71-113
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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    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. Aparna Lhila & Kosali Simon, 2008. "Prenatal health investment decisions: Does the child’s sex matter?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 45(4), pages 885-905, November.
    3. Osmani, Siddiq & Sen, Amartya, 2003. "The hidden penalties of gender inequality: fetal origins of ill-health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 105-121, January.
    4. 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.
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    6. Luojia Hu & Analía Schlosser, 2015. "Prenatal Sex Selection and Girls’ Well‐Being: Evidence from India," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(587), pages 1227-1261, 09.
    7. David S. Loughran & Ashlesha Datar & M. Rebecca Kilburn, 2004. "The Interactive Effect of Birth Weight and Parental Investment on Child Test Scores," Working Papers 168, RAND Corporation.
    8. Monica Das Gupta & Jiang Zhenghua & Li Bohua & Xie Zhenming & Woojin Chung & Bae Hwa-Ok, 2003. "Why is Son preference so persistent in East and South Asia? a cross-country study of China, India and the Republic of Korea," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(2), pages 153-187.
    9. Orley Ashenfelter & Cecilia Rouse, 1998. "Income, Schooling, and Ability: Evidence from a New Sample of Identical Twins," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(1), pages 253-284.
    10. Douglas Almond & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2005. "The 1918 Influenza Pandemic and Subsequent Health Outcomes: An Analysis of SIPP Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 258-262, May.
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