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Sex differences in child health and healthcare: A reappraisal for India
Authors: Priyanka Dixit, John Cleland, and K. S. James
Source: Population Studies, Published online; DOI: 10.1080/00324728.2020.1807042
Topic(s): Child health
Health equity
Sex preference
Son preference
Country: Asia
Published: AUG 2020
Abstract: India has an unenviable reputation as one of the world’s most gender disparate countries. Previous studies of sex bias in childhood have shown large differences between Indian boys and girls in immunization and curative healthcare, but little difference in health status as indicated by anaemia and stunting. India has changed rapidly in past decades, hence we reappraise the situation with the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015–16). We found no evidence of sex differentials in immunization coverage but a small degree of discrimination in favour of boys in medical treatment for common symptoms of infection. This discrimination was no greater in the North and Central regions of India, where severe excess mortality among female children persists. Sex differences in anaemia and stunting were small, with no regional pattern. We found no evidence that healthcare or health status of girls was influenced by the presence of other daughters in the family. Keywords: gender, sibling effects, India, National Family Health Survey 2015–16, childhood health and care-seeking