Maternal autonomy and child nutrition: Evidence from rural Nepal
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyze the main determinants of child nutrition in rural Nepal, focusing on the influential role of maternal autonomy. Design/methodology/approach – This paper uses data from the 2006 Nepal Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) to estimate econometric models using OLS and logit techniques. The dependent variables are the two anthropometric measures of child weight-for-height (a measure of wasting) and height-for-age (a measure of stunting). Findings – No evidence was found of gender discrimination against the girl child in either of our nutritional measures. However, our results show that the explanatory variables have differential effects on male and female children. Estimation results show that maternal autonomy variables have a limited influence on child nutrition measures, but household wealth has a large positive impact on child nutrition, both short-term and long term. Originality/value – The large sample size and the range of questions available in our nationally representative dataset, allows us to explore the influence of household level social and economic factors on child nutrition. A study of the role of maternal decision-making power and control over assets on the nutritional status of children is an important issue in a developing country like Nepal, where health and education outcomes remain poor for large segments of the population. JEL Classification: I12, C25, O12
Children (age groups), Nepal, Nutrition, Personal health
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