This paper examines whether the distribution of bargaining power between parents affects permanent and transitory nutritional indicators in the early stages of boys' and girls' life. Rafael uses the Young Lives sample, which is a survey of young children living in poor households in Ethiopia, India (Andhra Pradesh state), Peru and Vietnam. By adopting a methodology to disentangle gender differences produced by technology and preferences, he finds evidence that the allocation of household resources varies with the gender of the child and the gender of the parents. After accounting for the potential endogeneity of the indicator of power distribution within the household, related to assortative mating in the marriage market, he finds that maternal power has larger effects on girls' health than on boys' health in Peru and Vietnam. In contrast, in India, maternal bargaining power has a negative effect on girls' health, whereas in Ethiopia no differential effect is found. Further analysis confirms that differences in parental behaviour drive the estimated effects and that these are robust to the inclusion of genetic information.
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This paper has since been published as a journal article in Oxford Development Studies (July 2018)