Are Children from Smaller Families Healthier? Examining the Causal Effects of Family Size on Child Welfare

Ankur Sarin, University of Chicago

The method of Instrument Variables is used to estimate the causal effect of family size on child health status (measured by height, weight and the weight to height ratio) and immunization. The method overcomes problems caused by the fact that child welfare and family sizes are possibly endogenous. Utilizing data from the two rounds of the National Family Health Survey conducted in India, the instruments I use are the sex composition of the first two children born in the family and that of the 'ideal' number of children. The results suggest that the causal effects of family size on child health and immunization in India are worse than those implied by a simple linear regression. Moreover, the negative effect of family size is found to be larger for girls than that for boys, highlighting the need for intervention by policy makers on behalf of girls in large families.

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Presented in Session 149: Gender and Patriarchy in India and Bangladesh