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Title: Female and child welfare in India : an empirical analysis
Author: Alfano, Marco
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 2929
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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The welfare of women and children is essential to a country’s development. Children’s welfare represents an important determinant of a country’s future. Women often play a key role in the household and their agency can be essential for the well being of all family members. And yet, women and children are often the most vulnerable individuals in society. Policy makers have increasingly come to recognise this and consequently changes to the welfare of women and children have been laid at the very heart of the transformational promises enclosed in the Millennium Declaration of the United Nations and have been implemented in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – eight development targets agreed upon by all United Nation member states and all major international organisations. Children are critical for all eight aspects and four goals focus exclusively on women or children. These comprise primary education, gender equality, child survival and maternal health. Indeed, in the 2010 Review Summit the member states have expressed major new commitments to improving women’s and children’s health. The correlation between achieving an improvement in female and child welfare and fulfilling the MDGs never becomes clearer than when considering India. India’s progress is considered by many as pivotal to achieving the MDGs. A reason for this is the country’s size. With 1,171 million inhabitants it is the world second most populous country. Furthermore, in the recent past India has combined impressive economic growth and wealth creation with stagnation in key socio-economic indicators, particularly among disadvantaged groups of society. This thesis focuses on four aspects closely linked to the MDGs. The first is fertility. India takes an important place in the population growth debate. Its population is still second to China but estimates of the Population Reference Bureau suggest that it will have reached China’s population by 2025 and will have well overtaken it by 2050. Consequently, a thorough understanding of the determinants of high fertility in this country will be invaluable to policy makers. Female autonomy makes up the third MDG and constitutes the second point of interest. Societies throughout South Asia are characterised by a low status of women. According to the International Labour Office in India in particular discrimination against women is widespread. Evidence from Demographic Health Surveys suggests that women have little say on a number of household matters among which their own health care and two thirds of them work without pay. These matters in turn have devastating effects on the life of a woman’s children: The National Population Policy for example singled out the low status of women as a significant barrier to the achievements of population targets as well as of child health. Thus local and international policy makers have recognised the status of women as a policy priority. The third aspect is primary education, which is reflected in the second MDG. India has made impressive strides in improving its schooling record but there is still room for substantial improvement. Data from the UNICEF suggests that an estimated 42 million children aged 6 to 10 are not in school. Again, gender differences in schooling are still widespread throughout the country. Child survival is this thesis’ final factor of interest. India has the world’s largest under-five population of 127 million children and its under-five deaths account for 22% of the world’s mortality rates and figures from the United Nations suggest that India is off-track to achieving the target set in the MDGs by the year 2015. Reasons for these high rates of child mortality range from malnutrition to insufficient immunisation coverage. Yet some of the reasons may also lie in the proximity of India’s deep-rooted gender discrimination: survival rates are disproportionally skewed towards boys. The thesis has a strong empirical focus and all three chapters employ data from the third round of the National Family Health Survey for India (2005/2006), which is part of the Demographic and Health Survey Series conducted in about 70 low and middle income countries around the world.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HQ The family. Marriage. Woman ; HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare