This paper investigates the dynamics of gender-based disparities in the intra-household allocation of food during childhood and adolescence in India. By using three rounds of longitudinal data from Young Lives, the paper documents the evolution of gender gaps in dietary diversity and the consumption of different foods for two cohorts at different ages. While no gender-based disparities in dietary quality occur at 5, 8 and 12 years old, a wide pro-boy gap emerges at age 15. Specifically, mid-adolescent girls tend to consume fewer protein- and vitamin-rich foods such as eggs, legumes, root vegetables, fruit and meat. This result is robust to gender differences between adolescents in terms of puberty onset, time-use and dietary behaviours. Finally, gender differentials in dietary quality in mid-adolescence do not vary by maternal education, poverty or place of residence, whilst they are moderated by levels of the caregiver’s educational aspirations. Specifically, the pro-boy bias is particularly marked amongst adolescents with ‘academically aspiring’ caregivers.
Aurino, E. Young Lives Working Paper 146. Do Boys Eat Better Than Girls in India? Longitudinal Evidence from Young Lives. Young Lives, Department of International Development at the University of Oxford, Oxford, UK (2016) 26 pp. ISBN 978-1-9099403-60-4