Female Disadvantage in Under-Five Mortality in India: Measuring Explicit Discrimination Using Data on Twins

Ridhi Kashyap , University of Oxford
Julia Behrman, Northwestern University

Son preference has been linked to excess female under-five mortality in India and considerable literature explores whether parents invest more resources in sons relative to daughters—which we refer to as explicit discrimination— leading to girls’ higher mortality. However, this literature does not adequately control for the implicit discrimination processes that sort girls into different types of families (e.g. larger) and at earlier parities. To better address the endogeneity associated with implicit discrimination processes, we explore the association between child sex and post-neonatal under-five mortality using a sample of mixed-sex twins from four waves of the Indian National Family Health Survey. We document a sizeable impact of explicit discrimination on girls’ excess mortality in India, particularly compared to a placebo analysis in Africa where girls have a survival advantage. We also show that explicit discrimination has weakened over subsequent birth cohorts since the mid-1990s, especially in northwestern India.

See paper

 Presented in Session 11. Health & Mortality 2