Women’s Inheritance Rights and Child Health Outcomes in India

Joseph Ajefu, Nadia Singh*, Shayequazeenat Ali, Uchenna Efobi

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Does a legal change in women’s inheritance rights have long-term effects on child health outcomes? This paper examines the effect of an improvement in women’s inheritance rights on child nutritional health outcomes in India using a difference-in-differences estimation approach. We use the staggered implementation of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 to investigate the impact of the reform on anthropometric indictors of child health: being underweight, stunted, and wasted. The findings of this study reveal that an improvement in women’s inheritance rights has a positive impact on children’s health and reduces the probability of nutritional deficiency in the child. We identify mechanisms such as increased educational levels, better marital outcomes, and improved intrahousehold bargaining power of women as potential pathways through which inheritance rights affect child nutritional health outcomes. The results of the paper lend credence to growing evidence that legal recognition of women’s inheritance rights can have sustained and second-generation effects, in spite of poor enforcement mechanisms and persistence of deep-rooted societal bias against women holding property.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)752-767
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Development Studies
Volume58
Issue number4
Early online date1 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2022

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