Gender Composition of Children and Sanitation Behavior in India

52 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2017 Last revised: 21 Jul 2019

See all articles by Deepak Saraswat

Deepak Saraswat

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 19, 2019


Open Defecation has been linked to various public health issues and has gained significant policy attention. Investing in adoption of better sanitation has also been advocated on the grounds of providing women with privacy and protection from potential harassment. Nonetheless, previous research has shown that due to son-biased preferences, households in India under-invest in outcomes for their female children. Linking the gender composition of children in Indian households to their sanitation behavior I find that, households reduce open defecation in presence of female children. Reduction in Open Defecation ranges from 7-14% in urban and 3-7% in rural areas, respectively. Various heterogeneity analysis suggest that the reduction in OD is driven by households facing a potentially high cost of harassment related to the female children. The findings in this paper provide a new first stage association between gender composition of children and sanitation behavior and also contribute to the economic literature on decision making in households belonging to developing countries.

Keywords: Sanitation, Open Defecation, Gender Composition of Children, India

JEL Classification: O10, O18, J18, J16

Suggested Citation

Saraswat, Deepak, Gender Composition of Children and Sanitation Behavior in India (July 19, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Deepak Saraswat (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics ( email )

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