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The Role of Maternal Literacy in Reducing the Risk of Child Malnutrition in India

  • Vani K. Borooah

    ()

This study uses unit-record data on over 50,000 rural children, from the sixteen major states of India, to analyse the determinants of the risks of severe stunting and of being severely underweight. The importance of this study derives from the fact that the prevalence of under-nourishment in India is, even relative to other poor countries, shockingly high. The study focuses on the role of maternal literacy in reducing the risk of child malnourishment. It concludes that when the mother is literate, real benefits flow to children in terms of reduced risk; the same benefits, however, do not flow when the father, but not the mother, is literate. Literate mothers make more effective use of health-care institutions, like anganwadis and hospitals. Consequently, the benefits to children from expanding the supply of such institutions are greater when these institutions interact with mothers who are literate.

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Paper provided by ICER - International Centre for Economic Research in its series ICER Working Papers with number 31-2002.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:icr:wpicer:31-2002
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  1. Basu, Kaushik & Foster, James E, 1998. "On Measuring Literacy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(451), pages 1733-49, November.
  2. Ravallion, Martin & Wodon, Quentin, 1999. "Does child labor displace schooling? - evidence on behavioral responses to an enrollment subsidy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2116, The World Bank.
  3. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon & Jeemol Unni, 2001. "Education and Women's Labour Market Outcomes in India," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 173-195.
  4. Gibson, John, 2001. "Literacy and Intrahousehold Externalities," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 155-166, January.
  5. Mark Rosenzweig & Andrew D. Foster, . "Technical Change and Human Capital Returns and Investments: Evidence from the Green Revolution," Home Pages _065, University of Pennsylvania.
  6. Behrman, Jere R & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1984. "The Socioeconomic Impact of Schooling in a Developing Country," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(2), pages 296-303, May.
  7. Thomas, Duncan & Strauss, John, 1992. "Prices, infrastructure, household characteristics and child height," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 301-331, October.
  8. Caldwell, John C., 1993. "Health transition: The cultural, social and behavioural determinants of health in the Third World," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 125-135, January.
  9. Borooah, Vani, 2003. "Births, Infants and Children: an Econometric Portrait of Women and Children in India," MPRA Paper 19620, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Smith, Lisa C. & Haddad, Lawrence James, 2000. "Explaining child malnutrition in developing countries: a cross-country analysis," Research reports 111, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  11. Behrman, Jere R. & Deolalikar, Anil B., 1988. "Health and nutrition," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 631-711 Elsevier.
  12. Vani Borooah, 2000. "The Welfare of Children in Central India: Econometric Analysis and Policy Simulation," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(3), pages 263-287.
  13. Lavy, V & Strauss, J & Thomas, D & de Vreyer, P, 1996. "Quality of Health Care, Survivial and Health Outcomes in Ghana," Papers 96-20, RAND - Reprint Series.
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