The Effect of Maternal Education on Sex Bias in Child Survival in Bangladesh

Aiko Hattori, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Peter M. Lance, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Gustavo Angeles, National Institute of Public Health (INSP), Mexico and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Maternal education is believed to improve child survival of both sexes, and especially that of girls when parental son preference is present. The effect of education, however, may be estimated incorrectly due to endogeneity of maternal education caused by unobserved variables at the community and individual levels. This paper estimates the causal effect of maternal education on sex bias in child survival in Bangladesh by applying instrumental variables (IV) constructed from education programs introduced in the 1990s. Using integrated data from the Demographic and Health Survey, the population census, and the secondary education institution census, we find that maternal education improves significantly child survival of both sexes. The IV estimate is significantly larger than the corresponding OLS estimate. There is no evidence, however, that higher maternal education benefits girls more than boys. The education programs have improved child survival of both sexes by enhancing maternal education in Bangladesh.

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Presented in Poster Session 7