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Droughts and Gender Bias in Infant Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa

Author

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  • Flatø, Martin

    () (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)

  • Kotsadam, Andreas

    () (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)

Abstract

Are African girls more exposed than boys to risk of infant mortality during crises and if so, is the difference due to discrimination? To answer these questions, we combine retrospective fertility data on over 1.5 million births from Demographic and Health Surveys with data on rainfall variability and find a substantial gender difference favouring boys following droughts. We substantiate that this difference has social determinants by showing that the difference is only present in contexts in which we would expect discrimination of daughters. The difference is only present in communities with strong preferences for sons and in areas where fertility desires are low. In areas with low levels of female employment there is a large gender gap following droughts, especially for infants with mothers who are not working. In contrast, there is no gender difference in infant mortality after droughts in areas where many women work, irrespective of the employment status of the individual mother under consideration. No difference is found across mothers with different levels of education, perhaps due to the lower fertility preferences of more educated women. In total, the results indicate a large and socially founded gender bias in infant mortality after crises. They also shed light on factors behind the African exceptionalism of little gender discrimination in infant mortality. As communities with strong son preferences, low fertility preferences, and low female employment display gender bias after crises in Africa, the results are consistent with factors explaining differences in gender biases between countries across the world.

Suggested Citation

  • Flatø, Martin & Kotsadam, Andreas, 2014. "Droughts and Gender Bias in Infant Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa," Memorandum 02/2014, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2014_002
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    File URL: https://www.sv.uio.no/econ/english/research/unpublished-works/working-papers/pdf-files/2014/memo-02-2014.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Flatø, Martin & Muttarak, Raya & Pelser, André, 2017. "Women, Weather, and Woes: The Triangular Dynamics of Female-Headed Households, Economic Vulnerability, and Climate Variability in South Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 41-62.
    2. Rossi, Pauline & Rouanet, Léa, 2015. "Gender Preferences in Africa: A Comparative Analysis of Fertility Choices," World Development, Elsevier, pages 326-345.
    3. Han Lin Shang, 2017. "Reconciling Forecasts of Infant Mortality Rates at National and Sub-National Levels: Grouped Time-Series Methods," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), pages 55-84.
    4. Chuhan-Pole,Punam & Dabalen,Andrew L. & Kotsadam,Andreas & Sanoh,Aly & Tolonen,Anja Karolina, 2015. "The local socioeconomic effects of gold mining : evidence from Ghana," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7250, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Rainfall; Drought; Gender; Infant mortality; Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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