The effect of women's status and community on the gender differential in children's nutrition in India

J Biosoc Sci. 2011 Sep;43(5):513-33. doi: 10.1017/S002193201100006X. Epub 2011 Mar 15.


This study uses the third National Family Health Survey (2005-06) in India to investigate whether differences in women's status, both at the individual and community levels, can explain the persistent gender differential in nutritional allocation among children. The results show that girls are less likely than boys to receive supplemental food and more likely to be malnourished. In general it appears that higher women's status within a community, as well as higher maternal status, have beneficial effects on a daughter's nutritional status. Further, the moderating effects of community appear to be more consistent and stronger than the individual-level characteristics. A positive relationship between the percentage of literate women in a community and the gender differential in malnutrition appears to be an exception to the general findings regarding the beneficial nature of women's status on a daughter's well-being, showing the need for more than just basic adult literacy drives in communities to overcome the problem of daughter neglect.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child Welfare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prejudice*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class*
  • Women's Health*
  • Young Adult