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Is gender gap in childhood mortality disappeared in India? Trends over past 25 years

Abhishek Kumar, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

The effect of prevalent son preference and gender discrimination on poor health and high mortality among girls than boys are widely researched in India. The recent good news is the decreasing gender gap in childhood mortality and even lower mortality among female and male children. Using data of four rounds of the National Family Health Survey conducted in India during 1992–2016, this paper examines the trends, socioeconomic, and north-south pattern of gender gap in childhood mortality (neonatal, postnatal, infant, child, and under-five mortality) rate. Adjusted mortality rates (per 1000 live births) are estimated using multivariate analyses. Gelbach’s decomposition analysis is used to understand the factors contributing decreased gender gap in childhood mortality over time. Findings indicate that, the trend of excessive mortality among female than male children is first time turned around in 2015-16 – indicating lower under-five mortality rate among female (49) than male (54). This pattern is even evidenced among poor, rural, children of illiterate mothers, and even in north Indian patriarchal society. Increased educational level among mother, improved use of maternal and child health services, and promotional schemes are prime contributors to the decreased gender gap in the childhood mortality in India.

Keywords: Children and youth, Mortality, Gender

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  Presented in Session 47. Mortality in Low- and Middle-Income Countries