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Child Nutrition in India in the Nineties: A Story of Increased Gender Inequality?

  • Tarozzi, Alessandro
  • Mahajan, Aprajit

We establish some new interesting stylized facts on the changes in boy versus girl nutritional status in India during the nineties, a period of rapid economic growth. Our analysis is based on the comparison, over time and across genders, of the distribution of z-scores calculated for height and weight measures. Overall, we find that child nutrition improved substantially, but we also find that gender differences in nutritional status increased as well, with nutritional status improving substantially more for boys than for girls. Consistent with a large literature that shows the existence of a steep North-South gradient in gender inequality in India, we find that changes in nutritional status appear to be much more similar between genders in the South. We also estimate predicted changes in nutritional status based on changes in the distribution of household wealth (proxied by asset ownership) and a few other observed household characteristics. Actual changes appear to be relatively close to predicted ones in urban areas. For children living in the rural sector the results are more mixed, and we observe that actual changes in weight are quite larger than predicted ones for boys, while they are much worse than the predicted ones for girl height. We also estimate that the predicted changes are generally larger for boys than for girls.

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Paper provided by Duke University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 05-06.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:duk:dukeec:05-06
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  1. Filmer, Deon & Pritchett, Lant, 1998. "Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data - or tears : with an application to educational enrollments in states of India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1994, The World Bank.
  2. Russell Davidson & Jean-Yves Duclos, 2000. "Statistical Inference for Stochastic Dominance and for the Measurement of Poverty and Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1435-1464, November.
  3. Dinardo, J. & Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: a Semiparametric Approach," Cahiers de recherche 9406, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  4. Siwan Anderson, 2003. "Why Dowry Payments Declined with Modernization in Europe but Are Rising in India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(2), pages 269-310, April.
  5. Garry F. Barrett & Stephen G. Donald, 2003. "Consistent Tests for Stochastic Dominance," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 71-104, January.
  6. Behrman, Jere R., 1988. "Nutrition, health, birth order and seasonality : Intrahousehold allocation among children in rural India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 43-62, February.
  7. Gaurav Datt & Valerie Kozel & Martin Ravallion, 2003. "A Model-Based Assessment of India's Progress in Reducing Poverty in the 1990s," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-32, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  8. Behrman, Jere R, 1988. "Intrahousehold Allocation of Nutrients in Rural India: Are Boys Favored? Do Parents Exhibit Inequality Aversion?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(1), pages 32-54, March.
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