An exogenous increase in household size, explained by multiple or twin births, depletes children’s health, suggests this study.
Mehreen Mookerjee, College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Manini Ojha, Associate Professor, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Sanket Roy, School of Business Administration, American University of Sharjah, University City, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
Child malnutrition is a significant public health concern in several developing countries. Evidence suggests that family size and children’s health outcomes are correlated. We utilize data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) for India and employ an Instrumental Variable approach to examine the impact of limiting fertility through the use of contraceptives on child health.
Exploiting the exogenous variation in district average of women’s exposure to family-planning messages, we estimate that contraception leads to a 1.45 (0.47) SD increase in a child’s height-for-age (weight-for-age) z-scores and reduces the likelihood of stunting (being underweight) by 17.9 (10.9) pp.
We provide support to the resource-dilution hypothesis as our potential mechanism, highlighting that an exogenous increase in household size, explained by multiple or twin births, depletes children’s health. Our findings underscore the benefits of exposure to family-planning for child health and the need for targeted policies focusing on access to (and use of) contraceptives.
Published in: Economic Modelling
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