Early Female Marriage and Sex Differentials in Child Healthcare and Nutrition

Mazhar Mughal , Pau Business School
Rashid Javed, University of Pau and Pays de l'Adour
Charlotte Fontan Sers, Pau Business School

Preferential treatment of boys at early stage of life is an important issue in the son-preferring societies of the Indian Subcontinent. In this study, we examine to what extent this prevailing gender bias is associated with the practice of early female marriage in Pakistan. Using data from four Demographic and Health Surveys, we study the association between early marriage among Pakistani women and differential peri- and post-natal child healthcare and nutrition as well as longer-term child development outcomes. We find that early marriage is significantly associated with several healthcare, nutrition and child development outcomes. The sex of the child too is significant in some estimations, showing the prevalence of son preference. However, the effects of maternal marriage age on child outcomes are found to be not gender-specific. This finding underscores the strength of existing patriarchal social norms which still reward women with greater say for bearing sons.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course