Why Do Mothers Breastfeed Girls Less than Boys? Evidence and Implications for Child Health in India

Seema Jayachandran, Ilyana Kuziemko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

125 Scopus citations

Abstract

Breastfeeding is negatively correlated with future fertility because nursing temporarily reduces fecundity and because mothers usually wean on becoming pregnant again. We model breastfeeding under son-biased fertility preferences and showthat breastfeeding duration increases with birth order, especially near target family size; is lowest for daughters and children without older brothers because their parents try again for a son; and exhibits the largest gender gap near target family size, when gender is most predictive of subsequent fertility. Data from India confirm each prediction. Moreover, child survival exhibits similar patterns, especially in settings where the alternatives to breastmilk are unsanitary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1485-1538
Number of pages54
JournalQuarterly Journal of Economics
Volume126
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics

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