Marriage Patterns, Kinship Structure and the Utilization of Maternal Health Care Services in India

Sonalde B. Desai, University of Maryland
Lijuan Wu, University of Maryland

Regional variation in utilization of maternal health services in India is well recognized. We examine the role of marriage and kinship patterns in shaping intrahousehold resource allocation and thereby influencing women’s access to prenatal, delivery and postnatal care. We expect this effect to operate in two ways: (1) Marriage patterns characterized by village endogamy and consanguinity increase parental connections with their daughters, resulting in increased valuation of women in the community as a whole; and (2) Village endogamy and consanguinity increase individual women’s contact with their parents and social support networks and thus add to the resources women are able to draw upon to obtain maternity care. Lack of appropriate data has hampered an examination of these relationships. Using our recently collected University of Maryland-NCAER Human Development Survey 2004-2005, we attempt to disentangle the contextual and individual effects of marriage and kinship patterns on women’s access to maternity care.

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Presented in Session 105: Community Effects on Health Behaviors and Outcomes