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Research Project on

Explaining Gender Disparity Among Children in Health in India:
An Inter State Comparison

Researchers: Dr Santosh Jatrana
Asian MetaCentre for Population and Sustainable Development Analysis


The strong preference for sons over daughters and resulting discrimination against daughters in India is well known, though the preference is not uniformly observed across different regions of the country. India exhibits wide variations in the degree of son preference, with stronger son preference found in northern India than in the south. A review of literature on this topic indicates that while the existing studies in India document the existence of sex bias, detailed explorations into the extent, pattern and nature of gender disparity in various possible fields has not been undertaken. Most research of this type has been concentrated in comparing a few states of north and south India. Moreover the literature contains a number of contradictory claims and findings on the subject and there is a need for further empirical investigation. This study aims to update the documentation and examine patterns of gender disparities for children between states of India in health outcomes, including treatment of illness, using phase II of National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-2). The focus on these outcomes for children is mainly because these outcomes, such as child mortality, are relatively less influenced by the choices of the children themselves and potentially more indicative of differential treatment by their parents (and other adults) and hence may indicate more clearly one particular source of gender disparity. Specifically this research addresses the following questions:

  • To update the documentation of gender disparities for children in different states of India in health status, disease incidence, prevalence of anaemia, use of preventive and curative health care services using phase II of the National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-2);
  • To investigate regional variations in gender disparity and to assess if a regional pattern of gender disparity in health outcomes;
  • To examine whether gender disparity in various field is influenced by demographic factors like birth order, sex of the last child, sex sequence of previous children and number of surviving sons in the family;
  • To understand socio-economic determinants of gender disparity;
  • To examine the implications of the results for the wider Indian subcontinent and East Asian countries particularly China and Korea.

In progress

Expected Output
One article for Asian MetaCentre Research Paper Series, one or two academic articles.



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