Journal of Biosocial Science

Research Article

THE EFFECT OF WOMEN’S STATUS ON INFANT AND CHILD MORTALITY IN FOUR RURAL AREAS OF BANGLADESH

MIAN B. HOSSAINa1, JAMES F. PHILLIPSa2 and BRIAN PENCEa3

a1 School of Public Health and Policy, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD, USA

a2 Research Division, Population Council, New York, USA

a3 School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Summary.

In South Asia women are often the primary decision-makers regarding child health care, family health and nutrition. This paper examines the proposition that constraints on women’s status adversely affect the survival of their children. Survey data are used to construct indices of women’s household autonomy and authority, which are then linked to longitudinal data on survival of their children. Proportional hazard models indicate that enhanced autonomy significantly decreases post-neonatal mortality. Enhanced household authority significantly decreases child mortality. A simulation based on estimated effects of eliminating gender inequality suggests that achieving complete gender equality could reduce child mortality by nearly fifty per cent and post-neonatal mortality by one-third.