IZA DP No. 14498: Entitled to Property: Inheritance Laws, Female Bargaining Power, and Child Health in India
Child height is a significant predictor of human capital and economic status throughout adulthood. Moreover, non-unitary household models of family behavior posit that an increase in women's bargaining power can influence child health. We study the effects of an inheritance law change, the Hindu Succession Act Amendment (HSAA), which conferred enhanced inheritance rights to unmarried women in India, on child height. We find robust evidence that the HSAA improved the height and weight of children. In addition, we find evidence consistent with a channel that the policy improved the women's intrahousehold bargaining power within the household, leading to improved parental investments for children. These study findings are also compatible with the notion that children do better when their mothers control a more significant fraction of the family resources. Therefore, policies that empower women can have additional positive spillovers for children's human capital.