Clean Cooking Fuel, Women's Intrahousehold Status, and Son Preference in Rural India

Dean Spears, Princeton University
Avinash Kishore, Harvard University

In urban India, many households do not use clean cooking fuel, instead using traditional, biomass fuels with important negative health consequences. We document a causal effect of child sex on fuel choice: urban households where the first-born child is a boy are more likely, on average, to use clean cooking fuel. This effect is found in the DHS and replicated in the DLHS. It is robust to the inclusion of controls and fixed effects. It is also found among the subsample of women all of whose pregnancies have resulted in live birth, suggesting it is not a result of sex-selective abortion or relative fraility of males. The effect is not found for babies born just before the survey, consistenly with a causal interpretation (it would take time to have an effect). Two possible mechanisms are an effect on women's intrahousehold status and desire to invest in sons' health.

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Presented in Poster Session 1