Female and child welfare in India : an empirical analysis
Alfano, Marco (2011) Female and child welfare in India : an empirical analysis. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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The welfare of women and children is essential to a country’s development. Children’s
welfare represents an important determinant of a country’s future. Women often play a
key role in the household and their agency can be essential for the well being of all
family members. And yet, women and children are often the most vulnerable
individuals in society.
Policy makers have increasingly come to recognise this and consequently
changes to the welfare of women and children have been laid at the very heart of the
transformational promises enclosed in the Millennium Declaration of the United
Nations and have been implemented in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) –
eight development targets agreed upon by all United Nation member states and all
major international organisations. Children are critical for all eight aspects and four
goals focus exclusively on women or children. These comprise primary education,
gender equality, child survival and maternal health. Indeed, in the 2010 Review Summit
the member states have expressed major new commitments to improving women’s and
children’s health. The correlation between achieving an improvement in female and
child welfare and fulfilling the MDGs never becomes clearer than when considering
India. India’s progress is considered by many as pivotal to achieving the MDGs. A
reason for this is the country’s size. With 1,171 million inhabitants it is the world
second most populous country. Furthermore, in the recent past India has combined
impressive economic growth and wealth creation with stagnation in key socio-economic
indicators, particularly among disadvantaged groups of society.
This thesis focuses on four aspects closely linked to the MDGs. The first is
fertility. India takes an important place in the population growth debate. Its population
is still second to China but estimates of the Population Reference Bureau suggest that it will have reached China’s population by 2025 and will have well overtaken it by 2050.
Consequently, a thorough understanding of the determinants of high fertility in this
country will be invaluable to policy makers.
Female autonomy makes up the third MDG and constitutes the second point of
interest. Societies throughout South Asia are characterised by a low status of women.
According to the International Labour Office in India in particular discrimination
against women is widespread. Evidence from Demographic Health Surveys suggests
that women have little say on a number of household matters among which their own
health care and two thirds of them work without pay. These matters in turn have
devastating effects on the life of a woman’s children: The National Population Policy
for example singled out the low status of women as a significant barrier to the
achievements of population targets as well as of child health. Thus local and
international policy makers have recognised the status of women as a policy priority.
The third aspect is primary education, which is reflected in the second MDG.
India has made impressive strides in improving its schooling record but there is still
room for substantial improvement. Data from the UNICEF suggests that an estimated
42 million children aged 6 to 10 are not in school. Again, gender differences in
schooling are still widespread throughout the country.
Child survival is this thesis’ final factor of interest. India has the world’s largest
under-five population of 127 million children and its under-five deaths account for 22%
of the world’s mortality rates and figures from the United Nations suggest that India is
off-track to achieving the target set in the MDGs by the year 2015. Reasons for these
high rates of child mortality range from malnutrition to insufficient immunisation
coverage. Yet some of the reasons may also lie in the proximity of India’s deep-rooted
gender discrimination: survival rates are disproportionally skewed towards boys. The thesis has a strong empirical focus and all three chapters employ data from
the third round of the National Family Health Survey for India (2005/2006), which is
part of the Demographic and Health Survey Series conducted in about 70 low and
middle income countries around the world.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Child welfare -- India, Women -- India, Education, Primary -- India, Children -- Mortality -- India|
|Official Date:||December 2011|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of Economics|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Arulampalam, Wiji ; Naylor, Robin Andrew, 1959-|
|Extent:||197 leaves : illustrations|
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