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Does Increased Access Increase Equality? Gender and Child Health Investments in India

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  • Emily Oster

Abstract

Policymakers often argue that increasing access to health care is one crucial avenue for decreasing gender inequality in the developing world. Although this is generally true in the cross section, time series evidence does not always point to the same conclusion. This paper analyzes the relationship between access to child health investments and gender inequality in those health investments in India. A simple theory of gender-biased parental investment suggests that gender inequality may actually be non-monotonically related to access to health investments. At low levels of availability, investment in girls and boys is low but equal; as availability increases, boys get investments first, creating inequality. As availability increases further, girls also receive investments and equality is restored. I test this theory using data on the relationship between gender balance in vaccinations and the availability of "Health Camps" in India. I find support for a non-monotonic relationship. This result may shed light on the contrast between the cross-sectional and time-series evidence on gender and development, and may provide guidance for health policy in developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Emily Oster, 2006. "Does Increased Access Increase Equality? Gender and Child Health Investments in India," NBER Working Papers 12743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12743
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    Cited by:

    1. Bratti, Massimiliano & Mendola, Mariapia, 2014. "Parental health and child schooling," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 94-108.
    2. Ashish Singh, 2011. "Inequality of Opportunity in Indian Children: The Case of Immunization and Nutrition," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 30(6), pages 861-883, December.
    3. Jinkook Lee & Regina A. Shih & Kevin Carter Feeney & Kenneth M Langa, 2011. "Cognitive Health of Older Indians Individual and Geographic Determinants of Female Disadvantage," Working Papers WR-889, RAND Corporation.
    4. Emara, Noha & Chiu, I-Ming, 2015. "The Impact of Governance on Economic Growth: The case of Middle Eastern and North African Countries," MPRA Paper 68603, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. 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.
    6. Prakash, Nishith & Vadlamannati, Krishna Chaitanya, 2014. "Girls for Sale? Child Sex Ratio and Girls Trafficking in India," IZA Discussion Papers 8293, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Pogge, Thomas, 2012. "Ethical and Economic Perspectives on Global Health Interventions," IZA Policy Papers 38, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. repec:eee:joecag:v:4:y:2014:i:c:p:26-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Stephan Klasen & Simon Lange, 2011. "Getting Progress Right: Measuring Progress Towards the MDGs Against Historical Trends," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 87, Courant Research Centre PEG, revised 20 Feb 2012.
    10. Emla Fitzsimons & Bansi Malde, 2014. "Empirically probing the quantity–quality model," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(1), pages 33-68, January.
    11. Pierre-Richard Agénor, 2018. "A Theory of Social Norms, Women's Time Allocation, and Gender Inequality in the Process of Development," Centre for Growth and Business Cycle Research Discussion Paper Series 237, Economics, The Univeristy of Manchester.
    12. Echávarri, Rebeca & Husillos, Javier, 2016. "The Missing Link Between Parents’ Preferences and Daughters’ Survival: The Moderator Effect of Societal Discrimination," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 372-385.
    13. Noha EMARA & I-Ming CHIU, 2016. "The Impact of Governance Environment on Economic Growth: The Case of Middle Eastern and North African Countries," Journal of Economics Library, KSP Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 24-37, March.
    14. 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, pages 157-189.
    15. Rubiana Chamarbagwala & Martin Ranger, 2010. "A Multinomial Model of Fertility Choice and Offspring Sex Ratios in India," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(3), pages 417-438.
    16. Charlotte Goodburn, 2014. "Rural–Urban Migration and Gender Disparities in Child Healthcare in China and India," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 45(4), pages 631-655, July.
    17. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Chakravarty, Abhishek & Gulesci, Selim, 2016. "The Price of Gold: Dowry and Death in India," IZA Discussion Papers 9679, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    18. Santosh, Kumar, 2009. "Childhood Immunization, Mortality and Human Capital Accumulation: Micro-Evidence from India," MPRA Paper 27127, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Han, Xuehui & Khan, Haider & Zhuang, Juzhong, 2014. "Do Governance Indicators Explain Development Performance? A Cross-Country Analysis," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 417, Asian Development Bank.
    20. 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.
    21. Felipe Barrera-Osorio & Marianne Bertrand & Leigh L. Linden & Francisco Perez-Calle, 2008. "Conditional Cash Transfers in Education Design Features, Peer and Sibling Effects Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Colombia," NBER Working Papers 13890, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Shinsuke Tanaka, 2008. "Access to Health Infrastructure and Child Health Development: Evidence from Post-Apartheid South Africa," ISER Discussion Paper 0768, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University, revised Jan 2010.
    23. Massimiliano Bratti & Mendola, M., 2013. "GINI DP 63: Parental Health and Child Schooling!," GINI Discussion Papers 63, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    24. Jinkook Lee & Regina A. Shih & Kevin Carter Feeney & Kenneth M Langa, 2011. "Cognitive Health of Older Indians Individual and Geographic Determinants of Female Disadvantage," Working Papers 889, RAND Corporation.
    25. Emily Oster & Rebecca Thornton, 2009. "Menstruation and Education in Nepal," NBER Working Papers 14853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • 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
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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