Insuring Girls’ Lives Against Drought

Jagori Saha , Rhodes College
Joshua Merfeld, New York University

This paper revisits the relationship between agricultural productivity shocks and excess female mortality in India and focuses on investigating how this relationship changes when households have access to employment opportunities outside of agriculture. Building on previous work, we show that agricultural productivity shocks in India continue to be an important predictor of the sex of an infant: the sex-ratio of infants is more balanced in good rainfall years and skewed towards boys during bad rainfall years. In addition, we show that the effect of rainfall during the year of birth on height-for-age is stronger for girls than for boys. We then show that a guaranteed rural workfare program in India, that provides labor opportunities outside of agriculture, attenuates the relationship between rainfall and both the sex-ratio of infants and height-for-age for girls.

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 Presented in Session 91. Agriculture and Child Mortality