Infant mortality and child nutrition in Bangladesh

Health Econ. 2008 Sep;17(9):1015-35. doi: 10.1002/hec.1379.


The excess female infant mortality observed in South Asia has typically been attributed to gender discrimination in the intra-household allocation of food and medical care. However, studies on child nutrition find no evidence of gender differences. A natural explanation could be that in environments of high infant mortality of females, the surviving children are healthier, so that child nutrition cannot be studied independently of mortality. In this paper, we use data from the 2004 Bangladesh Demographic Health Survey to investigate if there are any gender differences in survival probabilities and whether this leads to differences in child nutrition. We argue the importance of establishing whether or not there exists a dependence relationship between the two random variables--infant mortality and child nutrition--and in order to detect this we employ a copula approach to model specification. The results suggest, for example, that while male children have a significantly lower likelihood of surviving their first year relative to female children, should they survive they have significantly better height-for-age Z-scores. From a policy perspective, household wealth and public health interventions such as vaccinations are found to be important predictors of better nutritional outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors