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Home Events - Development Economics @ Michigan International Institute Conference Maternal, Infant, and Child Health in Comparative Perspective

Maternal, Infant, and Child Health in Comparative Perspective

Maternal, Infant, and Child Health in Comparative Perspective

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Seema Jayachandran, Professor, Economics, Northwestern University
Son preference and girls’ health in India

In India, the eldest son is responsible for supporting his parents in old age, and he plays important roles in Hindu funeral rites. Having a son to fulfill these roles is very important to couples, and parents tend to favor their eldest son over their other children. This talk will discuss how eldest son preference shapes couples’ fertility decisions and their investments in their children in India, with important implications for girls’ health. 

Cheryl Moyer, Associate Professor, Learning Health Sciences; Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan
Understanding the role of gender in maternal and newborn health research in Ghana

Improving maternal and newborn health in sub-Saharan Africa requires an understanding of many complex, interrelated factors that span individual, household, community, and health system levels. As an interdisciplinary medical, public health, and social science-oriented research team, we have not explicitly examined the role of gender during our more than a decade of collaborative research in rural northern Ghana focused on mothers and their newborns. However, the importance of gender has proven itself time and again. This talk reflects two examples: 1) The role of grandmothers as gatekeepers for care-seeking; and 2) Blaming women: the behavioral versus situational explanation for poor outcomes.

Monica Das Gupta, Research Professor, Sociology, Maryland Population Research Center, University of Maryland
Son preference and “missing girls” in Asia: What drives it, what might help reduce it? Lessons from South Korea

Son preference is driven by specific cultural patterns that are found in many parts of Asia: East, South, and West. Much policy effort has been made to reduce son preference, with varying degrees of success. South Korea offers a useful case study of how these cultural patterns can change rapidly in a given setting. South Korea is the first country to shift from strong son preference to a growing preference for daughters. This presentation examines the factors associated with this radical shift.

The data analyzed are from the 2012 Korea General Social Survey, a national survey of 1,396 people. The outcome variable was derived from the survey question, “If you were to have one child, which one would you like to have – son, daughter, or no preference?” Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine the association between reported child gender preference and a range of social and cultural variables.  

43.3% of respondents reported daughter preference, 35.7% preferred sons, and 21% were indifferent. The odds of preferring daughters are highest among urban residents, younger people, more educated, female, atheists, and less traditional attitudes on gender roles. 

Other studies in South Korea find that intergenerational support between parents and daughters is strengthening relative to sons.  This is no longer an agrarian society where aging parents depend financially on sons.  In today’s urban economy people can save for retirement, and have national health insurance. However, people want companionship and care over their increasingly long lives, which they perceive daughters as more likely to provide than sons.

Daniel Iddrisu, MA Student, Masters in International and Regional Studies–African Studies specialization, University of Michigan
Using the Malaria Indicator Survey to Understand the role of Female-Headed Households in Prevention, Care-seeking and Treatment for Malaria among children in Ghana

This talk presents the role of female-headed households in the prevention, care-seeking, and treatment of malaria among children in Ghana. The talk also identifies the challenges that female-headed households go through in an attempt to cater to the health needs of the children and the entire household. The state of female-headed households with regards to access to other social amenities is also identified. The talk will also present the strategies that female-headed households adapt to meet the health needs of children in the household.


Oct 14 2021


12:00 pm - 2:00 pm




LSA International Institute

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