Understanding the Effects of Siblings on Child Mortality: Evidence from India
This paper examines the efffect of siblings on child mortality in the Indian state of West Bengal arguing that prior and posterior spacing between consecutive siblings are important measures of the intensity of competition among siblings for limited resources. Parental decisions regarding spacing is endogenous to allocation of resources though available estimates of child mortality largely ignore it. To correct for this possible endogeneity bias, we allow for family specific unobserved heterogeneity and model birth spacing and child mortality as correlated processes within a sequential framework. These corrected estimates suggest: (a) the hazard of prior spacing may increase while that of posterior spacing decrease with mother’s literacy and household assets. (b) the chances of child survival increase with an increase in both prior and posterior birth interval but decrease with the birth of a twin. (c) prior and posterior birth intervals have different effects on young boys and girls, which, in turn, reflect the nature of decisions made by resource constrained parents characterised by pro-male bias.
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