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Why Do Mothers Breastfeed Girls Less than Boys? Evidence and implications for Child Health in India*
Authors: Seema Jayachandran and Ilyana Kuziemko
Source: Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2011.1–54, doi:10.1093/qje/qjr029.
Topic(s): Breastfeeding
Child health
Son preference
Country: Asia
Published: APR 2011
Abstract: 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 show that 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.