ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Debraj RaySubscribe to Debraj Ray

Do Not Dilute NREGA

[An Open Letter to the Prime Minister on NREGA by economists based in India and elsewhere in the world.] We are writing to express our deep concern about the future of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). The NREGA was enacted in 2005 with unanimous support from all political...

Engendered Access or Engendered Care?

A central feature of many developing countries is the presence of significant gender differentials in health outcomes. Two potential factors that can account for this are that females access treatment later than males and that they receive differential care at the medical facility. This paper explores both of these in the context of eye care. The paper studies diagnostic and surgical outcomes of 60,000 patients who sought treatment over a three-month period in 2012 at the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. The results show that at presentation, women have worse diagnoses than men for indicators of symptomatic illness. To resolve gender-based health inequalities in developing countries, we need to know where these inequalities lie. This paper finds them in access but not care. The findings suggest that women seek treatment later than men for symptomatic illness. That no such gender differential exists for asymptomatic diseases suggests that women do not necessarily go for regular preventive check-ups at a lower frequency than men. The paper finds no systematic evidence that women and men receive differential medical treatment.

The Age Distribution of Missing Women in India

Relative to developed countries, there are far fewer women than men in India. Estimates suggest that among the stock of women who could potentially be alive today, over 25 million are "missing". Sex selection at birth and the mistreatment of young girls are widely regarded as key explanations. We provide a decomposition of missing women by age across the states. While we do not dispute the existence of severe gender bias at young ages, our computations yield some striking findings. First, the vast majority of missing women in India are of adult age. Second, there is significant variation in the distribution of missing women by age across different states. Missing girls at birth are most pervasive in some north-western states, but excess female mortality at older ages is relatively low. In contrast, some north-eastern states have the highest excess female mortality in adulthood but the lowest number of missing women at birth. The state-wise variation in the distribution of missing women across the age groups makes it very difficult to draw simple conclusions to explain the missing women phenomenon in India.
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