Neonatal Death in India: The Effect of Birth Order in a Context of Maternal Undernutrition

Diane Coffey , Population Research Center
Dean Spears, Delhi School of Economics

We document a novel fact about neonatal death, or death in the first month of life. Globally, neonatal mortality (NNM) is disproportionately concentrated in India. We identify a large effect of birth order on NNM that is unique to India: later-born siblings have a steep survival advantage relative to the birth order gradient in other developing countries. We show that India’s high prevalence of maternal undernutrition and its correlation with age and childbearing can explain this effect. We find that Indian mothers exit the underweight body mass range at an internationally comparatively high rate as they progress through childbearing careers.

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 Presented in Session 220. Determinants of Child Health and Mortality