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Sibling Death Clustering in India: State Dependence vs. Unobserved Heterogeneity

  • Arulampalam, Wiji


    (University of Warwick)

  • Bhalotra, Sonia R.


    (University of Essex)

Data from a range of different environments indicate that the incidence of death is not randomly distributed across families but, rather, that there is a clustering of death amongst siblings. A natural explanation of this would be that there are (observed or unobserved) differences across families, for example in genetic frailty, education or living standards. Another hypothesis of considerable interest for both theory and policy is that there is a causal process whereby the death of a child influences the risk of death of the succeeding child in the family. Drawing language from the literature on the economics of unemployment, the causal effect is referred to here as state dependence (or scarring). This paper investigates the extent of state dependence in India, distinguishing this from family-level risk factors common to siblings. It offers a number of methodological innovations upon previous research. Estimates are obtained for each of three Indian states, which exhibit dramatic differences in socio-economic and demographic variables. The results suggest a significant degree of state dependence in each of the three regions. Eliminating scarring, it is estimated, would reduce the incidence of infant mortality (among children born after the first child) by 9.8% in the state of Uttar Pradesh, 6.0% in West Bengal and 5.9% in Kerala.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2251.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A (Statistics in Society), 2006, 169 (4), 829-848
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2251
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  1. Narendranathan, Wiji & Elias, Peter, 1993. "Influences of Past History on the Incidence of Youth Unemployment: Empirical Findings for the UK," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 55(2), pages 161-85, May.
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  3. Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2005. "Simple solutions to the initial conditions problem in dynamic, nonlinear panel data models with unobserved heterogeneity," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(1), pages 39-54.
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  5. Dean R. Hyslop, 1999. "State Dependence, Serial Correlation and Heterogeneity in Intertemporal Labor Force Participation of Married Women," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1255-1294, November.
  6. Donald W.K. Andrews, 1999. "Testing When a Parameter Is on the Boundary of the Maintained Hypothesis," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1229, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  7. Sonia Bhalotra & Arthur van Soest, 2004. "Birth Spacing and Neonatal Mortality in India: Dynamics, Frailty and Fecundity," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 04/567, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  8. DaVanzo, J. & Pebley, A.R., 1993. "Maternal Depletion and Child Survival in Guatemala and Malaysia," Papers 93-18, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  9. James J. Heckman, 1981. "Heterogeneity and State Dependence," NBER Chapters, in: Studies in Labor Markets, pages 91-140 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Bolstad W. M & Manda S. O, 2001. "Investigating Child Mortality in Malawi Using Family and Community Random Effects: A Bayesian Analysis," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 96, pages 12-19, March.
  11. Bhargava, Alok, 2003. "Family planning, gender differences and infant mortality: evidence from Uttar Pradesh, India," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 225-240, January.
  12. Jane Miller & James Trussell & Anne Pebley & Barbara Vaughan, 1992. "Birth spacing and child mortality in bangladesh and the Philippines," Demography, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 305-318, May.
  13. Siân Curtis & Ian Diamond & John McDonald, 1993. "Birth interval and family effects on postneonatal mortality in Brazil," Demography, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 33-43, February.
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