Regional Patterns of Sex Bias and Excess Female Child Mortality in India
Using data from the National Family Health Survey of India (1992-93), this analysis documents evidence about the regional pattern of discrimination in the provision of child health care for female children in India. This discrimination is a contributing factor to the 60-65% excess female child mortality occurring in the states of the northern and north-central regions of India. Sex bias in child mortality follows a regional pattern, clearly illustrated by the sex-specific rank of children in families. In the northern and north-central regions, female child mortality compared with boys of respective rank is about one-third higher for the first girl child and even greater for girls of higher rank. In the southern and western regions, evidence of neglect of female children in health care provision and corresponding levels of excess female child mortality is very marginal. Set against the cultural constraints of a patriarchal society, developmental factors tend to reduce gender differences in health care and child mortality, though the opposite might also be the case, with gender inequalities tending to hold back development.