Have Changes in Women's Status Led to Gains in Child Nutrition in Bangladesh?
Radheeka Jayasundera, University of Southern California
Lynne M. Casper, University of Southern California
Since the 1990s researchers have noted massive improvements in women’s education, employment, total fertility rate and median age at first marriage in Bangladesh. According to human capital literature, these improvements should have a profound impact on child nutrition. We use cross-sectional data from the 1999 and 2007 Bangladesh Demographic Health Surveys and employ multivariate regression and decomposition methods to test whether increases in women’s status, as measured by improvements in socio-demographic characteristics, are associated with gains in child nutrition. We use a child’s height-for-age Z-score (haz) to measure long-term nutritional status of children under age five. From 1999 to 2007, there has been a 12 percent reduction in child stunting in Bangladesh. The Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition showed that 48% of this reduction is due to improvements in women’s status at the population level. Therefore, we conclude that improvements in women’s characteristics in Bangladesh have led to gains in child nutrition.
Presented in Session 128: Demography with a Gender Lens