What does gender dimorphism in stature tell us about discrimination in rural India, 1930-1975?

Aravinda Meera Guntupalli, Alexander Moradi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the debate on gender discrimination in India a frequently used measure is sex ratio. We propose a new indicator: dimorphism in the nutritional and health status approximated by mean stature which reflects the burden of workload, and differential access to food and health, that surviving boys and girls have faced during their period of growth. The analysis is based on the nutrition surveys carried out by the National Nutrition Monitoring Board (NNMB), which is a rare source of comprehensive height data for both males and females. After controlling for biases due to changes in sampling design, we assess the development of dimorphism in stature for seven Indian states in the period 1930-1975. The secular trends in gender dimorphism vary greatly from state to state. Finally, we explore the impact of several economic variables like agricultural output, poverty, real wages, development expenditures and the impact of monsoon rainfall on height dimorphism. The regression analysis confirms that gender discrimination is increasing with poverty. The decreasing effect of real wages, state development expenditures and food supply are the new insights.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGender and Discrimination: Health, Nutritional Status, and Role of Women in India
EditorsManoranjan Pal, Premananda Bharati, Bholanath Ghosh, T. S. Vasulu
PublisherOxford University Press India
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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