Mortality Risks, Health Endowments, and Parental Investments in Infancy

Evidence from Rural India

Published in: NBER Working Papers / (Cambridge, MA : National Bureau of Economic Research, Nov. 2007), p. 1-27

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2007

by Ashlesha Datar, Arkadipta Ghosh, Neeraj Sood

Read More

Access further information on this document at papers.nber.org

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

This paper examines whether increased background mortality risks induce households to make differential health investments in their high- versus low-endowment children. The authors argue that increases in background mortality risks may disproportionately affect the survival of the low-endowment sibling, consequently increasing the mortality gap between the high- and low-endowment siblings. This increase in mortality gap may induce households to investment more in their high endowment children. They test this hypothesis using nationally representative data from rural India. The authors use birth size as a measure of initial health endowment, immunization & breastfeeding as measures of childhood investments and infant mortality rate in the child's village as a measure of mortality risks. The authors find that in villages with high mortality risks, small-at-birth children in a family are 6 - 17 percent less likely to be breastfed or immunized compared to their large-at-birth siblings. In contrast, the authors find no significant within family differences in investments in villages with low mortality risks.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.