IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/15041.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Why Do Mothers Breastfeed Girls Less Than Boys? Evidence and Implications for Child Health in India

Author

Listed:
  • Seema Jayachandran
  • Ilyana Kuziemko

Abstract

Medical research indicates that breastfeeding suppresses post-natal fertility. We model the implications for breastfeeding decisions and test the model's predictions using survey data from India. First, we find that breastfeeding increases with birth order, since mothers near or beyond their desired total fertility are more likely to make use of the contraceptive properties of nursing. Second, given a preference for having sons, mothers with no or few sons want to conceive again and thus limit their breastfeeding. We indeed find that daughters are weaned sooner than sons, and, moreover, for both sons and daughters, having few or no older brothers results in earlier weaning. Third, these gender effects peak as mothers approach their target family size, when their decision about future childbearing (and therefore breastfeeding) is highly marginal and most sensitive to considerations such as ideal sex composition. Because breastfeeding protects against water- and food-borne disease, our model also makes predictions regarding health outcomes. We find that child-mortality patterns mirror those of breastfeeding with respect to gender and its interactions with birth order and ideal family size. Our results suggest that the gender gap in breastfeeding explains 14 percent of excess female child mortality in India, or about 22,000 "missing girls" each year.

Suggested Citation

  • Seema Jayachandran & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2009. "Why Do Mothers Breastfeed Girls Less Than Boys? Evidence and Implications for Child Health in India," NBER Working Papers 15041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15041
    Note: CH HC HE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15041.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Pritchett, Lant H. & DEC, 1994. "Desired fertility and the impact of population policies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1273, The World Bank.
    2. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 143-162, August.
    3. Gary S. Becker & H. Gregg Lewis, 1974. "Interaction between Quantity and Quality of Children," NBER Chapters, in: Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital, pages 81-90, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Fred Arnold & Sunita Kishor & T. K. Roy, 2002. "Sex‐Selective Abortions in India," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 759-785, December.
    5. 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.
    6. Rohini Pande, 2003. "Selective gender differences in childhood nutrition and immunization in rural India: The role of siblings," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 40(3), pages 395-418, August.
    7. Oster, Emily, 2009. "Does increased access increase equality? Gender and child health investments in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 62-76, May.
    8. Robert Retherford & Minja Choe & Shyam Thapa & Bhakta Gubhaju, 1989. "To what extent does breastfeeding explain Birth-interval effects on early childhood mortality?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(3), pages 439-450, August.
    9. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1980. "Testing the Quantity-Quality Fertility Model: The Use of Twins as a Natural Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 227-240, January.
    10. Shelley Clark, 2000. "Son preference and sex composition of children: Evidence from india," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 37(1), pages 95-108, February.
    11. Kazuo Yamaguchi, 1989. "A formal theory for male-preferring stopping rules of childbearing: sex differences in birth order and in the number of siblings," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(3), pages 451-465, August.
    12. Narayan Das, 1987. "Sex preference and fertility behavior: A study of recent Indian data," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 24(4), pages 517-530, November.
    13. Jeffrey Rous, 2001. "Is breast-feeding a substitute for contraception in family planning?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 38(4), pages 497-512, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Van Campenhout, Bjorn, 2016. "Fertility, Agricultural Labor Supply, and Production: Instrumental Variable Evidence from Uganda," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(3), pages 581-607, December.
    2. Arindam Nandi, 2015. "The Unintended Effects of a Ban on Sex-Selective Abortion on Infant Mortality: Evidence from India," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(4), pages 466-482, December.
    3. Jayachandran, Seema & Pande, Rohini, 2015. "Why Are Indian Children So Short?," CEPR Discussion Papers 10503, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Anh P. Ngo, 2020. "Effects of Vietnam’s two-child policy on fertility, son preference, and female labor supply," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 33(3), pages 751-794, July.
    5. Momoe Makino, 2018. "Birth Order and Sibling Sex Composition Effects Among Surviving Children in India: Enrollment Status and Test Scores," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 56(3), pages 157-196, September.
    6. Hatton, Timothy J. & Sparrow, Robert & Suryadarma, Daniel & van der Eng, Pierre, 2018. "Fertility and the health of children in Indonesia," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 67-78.
    7. Vinod Mishra & T. K. Roy & Robert D. Retherford, 2004. "Sex Differentials in Childhood Feeding, Health Care, and Nutritional Status in India," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(2), pages 269-295, June.
    8. Feeny, Simon & Mishra, Ankita & Trinh, Trong-Anh & Ye, Longfeng & Zhu, Anna, 2021. "Early-Life exposure to rainfall shocks and gender gaps in employment: Findings from Vietnam," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 183(C), pages 533-554.
    9. Bloom, D.E. & Luca, D.L., 2016. "The Global Demography of Aging," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 3-56, Elsevier.
    10. Clark, Gregory & Cummins, Neil, 2016. "The Child Quality-Quantity Tradeoff, England, 1780-1880: A Fundamental Component of the Economic Theory of Growth is Missing," CEPR Discussion Papers 11232, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Ea Hoppe Blaabæk & Mads Meier Jæger & Joseph Molitoris, 2020. "Family Size and Educational Attainment: Cousins, Contexts, and Compensation," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 36(3), pages 575-600, July.
    12. Seema Jayachandran, 2017. "Fertility Decline and Missing Women," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 118-139, January.
    13. Sascha Becker & Francesco Cinnirella & Ludger Woessmann, 2010. "The trade-off between fertility and education: evidence from before the demographic transition," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 177-204, September.
    14. Schultz, T. Paul, 2010. "Population and Health Policies," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Dani Rodrik & Mark Rosenzweig (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 4785-4881, Elsevier.
    15. Vladimir Ponczek & Andre Portela Souza, 2012. "New Evidence of the Causal Effect of Family Size on Child Quality in a Developing Country," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(1), pages 64-106.
    16. Bredl, Sebastian, 2012. "Child Quality and Child Quantity: Evidence from Bolivian Household Surveys," VfS Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62065, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    17. Angrist, Joshua D & Evans, William N, 1998. "Children and Their Parents' Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 450-477, June.
    18. Kieron Barclay & Torkild Lyngstad & Dalton Conley, 2018. "The Production of Inequalities within Families and Across Generations: The Intergenerational Effects of Birth Order and Family Size on Educational Attainment," NBER Working Papers 24530, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Nguyen, Cuong & Pham, Nguyet & Westbrook, Daniel, 2007. "Do Sibship Size and Birth Order Matter to Child Education?Evidence from Vietnam," MPRA Paper 107150, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Timothy J. Hatton, 2015. "Stature and Sibship: Historical Evidence," CEH Discussion Papers 039, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15041. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.