ISER Working Paper Series 2013-06
Parental education, gender preferences and child nutritional status: evidence from four developing countries
10 May 2013
This paper examines whether the distribution of bargaining power between parents affects permanent and transitory nutritional indicators in the early stages of boys’ and girls’ life. I use the Young Lives sample, which is a survey of young children living in poor households in Ethiopia, India (Andhra Pradesh state), Peru and Vietnam. By adopting a methodology to disentangle gender differences produced by technology and preferences, I find evidence that the allocation of household resources varies with the gender of the child and the gender of the parents. After accounting for the potential endogeneity of the indicator of power distribution within the household, related to assortative mating in the marriage market, I find that maternal power has larger effects on girls’ health than on boys’ health in Peru and Vietnam. In contrast, in India, maternal bargaining power has a negative effect on girls’ health, whereas in Ethiopia no differential effect is found. Further analysis confirms that differences in parental behaviour drive the estimated effects and that these are robust to the inclusion of genetic information.