, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 395-418

Selective gender differences in childhood nutrition and immunization in rural India: The role of siblings

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This article examines the role of the sex composition of surviving older siblings on gender differences in childhood nutrition and immunization, using data from the National Family Health Survey, India (1992–1993). Logit and ordered logit models were used for severe stunting and immunization, respectively. The results show selective neglect of children with certain sex and birth-order combinations that operate differentially for girls and boys. Both girls and boys who were born after multiple same-sex siblings experience poor outcomes, suggesting that parents want some balance in sex composition. However, the preference for sons persists, and boys who were born after multiple daughters have the best possible outcomes.

This article is part of the author’s doctoral dissertation completed at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, supported by the Hewlett Foundation and the Population Council. I thank Ken Hill, Nan Astone, and Michael Koenig for their comments and encouragement.