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Women’s status and children’s height in India: evidence from joint rural households Diane Coffey, Reetika Khera & Dean Spears photo credit: Kyle Merrit.

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Presentation on theme: "Women’s status and children’s height in India: evidence from joint rural households Diane Coffey, Reetika Khera & Dean Spears photo credit: Kyle Merrit."— Presentation transcript:

1 women’s status and children’s height in India: evidence from joint rural households Diane Coffey, Reetika Khera & Dean Spears photo credit: Kyle Merrit Ludowitz

2 Indian children are short Indian children under 5 years old, are, on average, 2 standard deviations below the heights of children in the international reference population (NFHS 2005) for a 5 year old girl, this is a deficit of about 10 centimeters, or 3.9 inches introduction

3 height, health, and wealth height is a summary measure of early life health height in childhood is correlated with height in adulthood (Waterlow, 2011) height in adulthood is a marker of human capital, economic productivity, and lifespan (Case & Paxson, 2008; Vogl, 2011; Jousilahti et al., 2000) introduction

4 why are Indian children so short? energy going in: quality and quantity of food – poor nutrition of pregnant and lactating women – young children are fed little and late energy coming out: much early life disease – intestinal disease: diarrhea and chronic enteropathy – pneumonia and other infections could women’s status be something that contributes to or aggravates these processes? introduction

5 prior papers: children’s health reflects women’s health Ramalingaswami et al., % of Indian women have BMIs below 18.5 (NFHS 2005) almost 60% of pregnant women are anemic (NFHS 2005) weight gain in pregnancy is very low (WHO, 1995; Agarwal et al., 1998) introduction

6 prior papers: women’s autonomy Das Gupta, 1995 in India, women have low status in their child-bearing years, it grows as they age cultural norms around behavior in women’s marital homes mean that they do not seek resources for themselves or their children introduction

7 prior papers: it’s hard to identify an effect of women’s status on kids’ health several papers regress children’s anthropometric indicators on an index of women’s status variables omitted variables women’s status is hard to measure – education?...seems to be different… – some “empowerment” variables may suffer from reporting problems introduction

8 preview: our strategy compare the children of higher and lower ranking daughters-in-law in the same household find that the children of lower ranking daughters- in-law are on average shorter than their cousins born to higher ranking daughters-in-law provide evidence for our interpretation of this finding as an effect of women’s status on children’s height introduction

9 how could mother’s rank within households affect children? in utero – pre-natal nutrition and weight gain: a function of consumption, work, and possibly stress during breastfeeding – poor nutrition status may decrease quality of breastfeeding ability to get resources for young children – food: getting the right things to eat, and enough of them – disease: getting treatment introduction

10 outline o background—joint Indian households o empirical strategy o main results—the children of lower ranking daughters-in-law are shorter than their cousins o interpretation—women’s status o confirming lower status o decision making, mobility & nutrition o ruling out pre-marriage sorting o ruling out differences in nuclear family resources introduction

11 background

12 diagram of a joint household in our sample older brother younger brother children in our sample household heads background

13 fraction of rural households and children under five in the NFHS living in joint households NFHS 1993NFHS 1999NFHS 2006 households no daughters-in-law one daughter-in-law two daughters-in-law more than two daughters-in-law children under five no daughters-in-law one daughter-in-law two daughters-in-law more than two daughters-in-law background

14 where are the joint households? background

15 Indian joint households are characterized by patriarchy and age- hierarchy (Mandelbaum, 1948) older brothers are afforded higher social status than younger brothers (Seymour, 1993) daughters-in-law defer to senior members of their marital families background

16 rank among daughters-in-law a wife inherits her husband’s status in the household, which is determined by his birth order (Singh, 2005) there are more people to whom a second daughter-in-law must defer than a first daughter-in-law (Mandelbaum, 2005) “senior wives tend to dominate young in- marrying wives” (Dyson & Moore, 1983) background

17 empirical strategy

18 main regression low ranking mother ih indicates that the child's mother is the low ranking daughter-in-law  h is a household fixed effect A ih is a vector of 120 age-in-months X sex dummies empirical strategy

19 D ih is a vector of demographic controls about the child – dummy for first born to her mother, single birth, mother’s age at birth, child’s birth order in joint household M ih is a vector of controls about the mother – height, years of education, age at marriage F ih is a vector of controls about the father – education, age at survey empirical strategy

20 main results

21 in the same household, are children of lower ranking mothers shorter than children of higher ranking mothers? main results

22 nonparametric comparison of children of lower and higher ranking DsIL main results

23 children’s height & mother’s rank main results

24 why control for child’s age? main results

25 children’s height & mother’s rank main results

26 demographic controls: are the results driven by direct effects of household size? main results do grandmothers prefer their earlier born grandchildren (or even the first born), regardless of mothers’ status? could having older cousins increase babies’ exposure to disease?

27 children’s height & mother’s rank main results

28 height difference not due to comparing children of different birth orders main results

29 mother controls: do lower ranking wives differ on pre-marriage characteristics? main results could women who are “less fit” to be mothers become lower ranking daughters-in-law?

30 children’s height & mother’s rank main results

31 height difference present for all maternal heights main results

32 father controls: could resource differences between “nuclear families” (within joint families) influence the results? main results

33 children’s height & mother’s rank main results

34 interpretations 1. confirming lower status: decision making, mobility & nutrition 2. ruling out pre-marriage sorting 3. ruling out differences in nuclear family resources

35 interpretations: confirming lower status

36 decision making: say in household decisions v interpretations: confirming lower status in NFHS 3, does the woman have “final say” in decisions related to: own health care? large household purchases? daily purchases? visits to her relatives and friends? what to do with the money her husband earns? regress an indicator for “say” on intrahousehold status using joint household fixed effects

37 v interpretations: confirming lower status decision making: say in household decisions lower ranking daughters-in-law similarly have less “say” in the NFHS 2

38 mobility: time spent outside women‘s mobility, particularly in the public sphere, has been used by other researchers as a measure of status (Rahman & Rao, 2004; Kabeer, 1999) we analyze data from India Time Use Survey, 1999 – all adults in 12,750 rural households in six states – 1.2% of rural households interviewed (n=312) had two daughters-in-law – data time use for the “typical” day before the survey v interpretations: confirming lower status

39 mobility: time spent outside v interpretations: confirming lower status

40 mobility: time spent outside v interpretations: confirming lower status

41 nutrition: body mass index v interpretations: confirming lower status low body mass index scores of women in India are an indicator of their malnourishment low body mass index scores indicate poor pre- natal nutrition, which has been shown to influence children's height (Kusin et al., 1992; Adair, 2007)

42 nutrition: body mass index v interpretations: confirming lower status h

43 interpretations: ruling out pre-marriage sorting

44 no differences on pre-marriage characteristics v interpretations: ruling out pre-marriage sorting

45 interpretations: ruling out differences in nuclear family resources

46 no differences between brothers can older brothers contribute more resources to their children’s early life health than younger brothers? use NFHS 3 men’s survey to look at a representative sample of brothers who live in the same household v interpretations: ruling out differences in nuclear family resources

47 no differences between brothers v interpretations: ruling out differences in nuclear family resources

48 conclusion

49 used a novel identification strategy to show the children of lower ranking daughters-in-law are shorter than the children of higher ranking daughters-in-law interpreted this difference as evidence that women’s status influences children’s health provided evidence that women’s status indeed differs by daughter-in-law’s intrahousehold rank ruled out competing explanations for the result

50 why it matters conclusion little prior well-identified evidence of an effect of women’s status on children’s health potentially broad implications for human capital formulation – other manifestations of low women’s status may also hurt children – other forms of hierarchy may also hurt children

51 comments? questions? photo credit: Gates Foundation conclusion

52 comparison of households in our sample with other rural households background

53 comparison of children in our sample with other rural children under five background

54 ways daughters-in-law defer remaining quiet in the presence of senior men and women veiling lowering her gaze sitting on the floor photo credit: dinodia.com our strategybackground

55 robustness check: larger sample main results

56 no differences on pre-marriage characteristics v interpretations: ruling out pre-marriage sorting are lower ranking daughter-in-laws inferior on pre-marriage characteristics? regress characteristics of mothers fixed before marriage on intrahousehold rank and household fixed effect dependent variables: height, education, literacy, age at marriage (from NFHS 3)

57 nutrition: body mass index "The person who cooked and the youngest daughter in law, usually the same person, ate last. This acted against her, even if there was no conscious discrimination. Thus after feeding unexpected guests, the person who ate last, the cook, could prefer to do without rather than cook again. In middle peasant households, often there could be no vegetables or lentils left and she made do with a pepper paste and/or raabri. In a situation of deficit she went hungry when other household members did not have to.” from: Palriwala, 1993 pg. 60 v interpretations: confirming lower status

58 potential imitations identifying an effect within a select subgroup of households the coefficient seems large, we hesitate to interpret it quantitatively literally would like have more information on the extent to which joint hh act as nuclear families no opportunities exist to replicate this in other comparable Indian datasets as far as we know conclusion

59 potential additions use NSS employment & unemployment survey to look for differences between brothers’ work compare brothers’ time use using the ITUS your suggestions?? conclusion

60


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