Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics


Women’s status and Children’s Height in India:
Evidence from Joint Rural Households


Diane Coffey

Princeton University

Thursday, 4th April 2013 at 3:00 PM

Venue : Seminar Room (First Floor)
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics

All are cordially invited


Children in India are puzzlingly short relative to their level of economic development. Stunting among Indian children is important because the same early life health insults that influence childhood height also influence adult human capital and health. One candidate explanation for why Indian children are so short is the very low social status of Indian women who, as mothers, feed and care for children in the early life. However, the literature lacks a well-identi fied test of this conjecture. Our paper applies a novel strategy to identify an effect of women’s status on children’s height.  Anthropological and demographic literature suggest that within joint Indian households, women married to younger brothers have lower intra-household status than women married to older brothers. We study the children of these women: children of lower ranking daughters-in-law are shorter, on average, than children of higher ranking daughters-in-law in rural Indian joint  households.  We provide empirical evidence that lower ranking daughters-in-law indeed have lower status in joint households and rule out several competing explanations for our findings.


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