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Selective versus Generalized Gender Bias in Childhood Health and Nutrition: Evidence from India

Citation

Rajan, Sowmya & Morgan, S. Philip (2018). Selective versus Generalized Gender Bias in Childhood Health and Nutrition: Evidence from India. Population and Development Review, 44(2), 231-255. PMCID: PMC5988261

Abstract

In 1987, Das Gupta published an influential article that introduced the concept of selective discrimination, i.e., gender discrimination that varies by the birth order and sex of a child's older siblings. Das Gupta showed that daughters with at least one sister had a higher risk of mortality, and she argued that the main pathway to excess mortality for second and third daughters was the inadequate parental allocation of key resources (such as nutrition and medical care) to those daughters. These daughters received fewer key investments from their parents because of the “deliberate failure to provide crucial inputs for sustaining life” (Das Gupta 1987, p. 86). In short, Das Gupta argued that selective discrimination results from conscious calculations and decisions about the relative value of each daughter. In contrast, generalized discrimination affects all daughters and is rooted in the patriarchal social structure. Such discrimination is based on schemas in the “brain and in the world” (Johnson‐Hanks et al. 2011) that specify that parents should provide superior care to sons relative to all daughters. Thus, all daughters face a form of “naturalized deprivation” wherein family members accept the gendered reasoning that deems daughters as “lesser beings” (Croll 2000).

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/padr.12132

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published

2018

Journal Title

Population and Development Review

Author(s)

Rajan, Sowmya
Morgan, S. Philip

PMCID

PMC5988261