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


Why are Indian Children Shorter than African Children?


Rohini Pande

Harvard University

Tuesday, 29th July 2014 at 2:00 PM

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

All are cordially invited

Child height-for-age is lower in India than in Sub-Saharan Africa, which presents a puzzle since India is on average richer than Africa and fares better on most other development indicators such as infant mortality. Using data from African and Indian Demographic and Health Surveys, we  document three facts. First, among firstborns, Indians are actually taller than Africans; the Indian height disadvantage appears with the second child and increases with birth order. The differentially strong birth order gradient in India exists even when we only use between-sibling variation. Second,  investments in successive pregnancies and children decline faster in India than Africa.  Third, the India-Africa birth order gradient  in child height varies with sibling gender.  These three facts suggest a large role for environmental factors in explaining why Indian children are short. Specifically,  parental preferences regarding  higher birth order children, driven in part by cultural norms of  eldest son preference, seem to underlie much of India’s child stunting.


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