Health Knowledge, Caste and Social Networks in India

Niels-Hugo Blunch, Washington and Lee University
Nabanita Datta Gupta, Aarhus School of Business

Addressing several methodological shortcomings of the previous literature, this paper explores the relationship among health knowledge and caste and a number of important mediating factors in India--attempting at estimating causal impacts through a combination of instrumental variables and matching methods, where possible. The results indicate the presence of a substantively large health knowledge caste gap (favoring high caste women) and also provides evidence that while observed individual characteristics such as education, information exposure, and access to social networks explain part of the gaps, a substantial part of the health knowledge gap is left unexplained. Overall, these results are consistent with the presence of discrimination towards low caste women in terms of health knowledge but at the same time also point towards the importance of continued attention towards education, institutions and economic policy for decreasing the health knowledge caste gap in India.

  See paper

Presented in Session 227: Health Disparities in India