Consanguinity, Gender, and Infant Survival in South India

Manisha Sengupta, Johns Hopkins University
Nan Johnson, Michigan State University

India is one of several societies where marked favoritism gives boys an edge over girls in surviving early childhood. However, consanguineous marriage of a bride to her mother's brother or nephew, a common practice in South India, is thought to raise the status of women within their marital families and perhaps to strengthen the prospects of their daughters' survival. These possibilities were examined with recent data from four South Indian states. Boys born into consanguineous unions had higher odds of dying during the neonatal period than did boys born into exogamous unions. Girls reaching the post-neonatal period were as likely as boys to die before the first birthday, regardless of the form of parental marriage. These data did not suggest that consanguineous marriages reduced infant mortality or lengthened life for girls more than boys.

Presented in Session 100: Gender Differentials in Child Health in Developing Countries