Child immunization is widely recognized as a cost-effective preventive medicine. Unfortunately, in India about 50% of the eligible children aged 12–23 months miss some essential vaccination. Though a positive association between maternal education and markers of child health like immunization has been long established, the literature has struggled to find a causal relationship, mainly because education is inextricably correlated with other socioeconomic variables like income. In this chapter, I propose a new instrument for women’s education in India using the following facts. First, due to lack of sanitary facilities in schools, particularly rural schools, large number of girls drop out of school once they reach puberty. Second, age at menarche is largely determined by biological factors and not social factors. Together, age at menarche can explain variations in schooling, yet be independent of outcome variables like child immunization. I find that additional years of maternal schooling (conditional on strictly positive years of schooling) do increase the probability of complete immunization of children.
I am grateful to Dorte Gyrd-Hansen, Michael Grossman and other seminar participants at CHEGU (Centre for Health Economics) at the University of Gothenburg. Laxman Timilsina provided excellent research assistance. All remaining errors are mine.
De, P.K. (2017), "Causal Effects of Maternal Schooling on Child Immunization in India", Human Capital and Health Behavior (Advances in Health Economics and Health Services Research, Vol. 25), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 85-107. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0731-219920170000025003
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