Using cross-sectional, individual-level survey data from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh collected under the Indian National Family Health Survey programme of 1992–93, statistical modelling was used to analyse the impact of a range of variables on the survival status of children during their first 2 years of life. Attention was focused on the potential impact of the mother’s autonomy. The strongest predictors of mortality were demographic and biological factors, breast-feeding behaviour, and use and knowledge of health services. Variables that can be interpreted as being related to maternal autonomy, such as the presence of a mother-in-law in the household, did not have a significant direct effect on child survival at the individual level, and their indirect effects were very limited.
Journal of Biosocial Science (2003) 33 603-22 [DOI:10.1017/S0021932001006034]