My paper with Yu-hsuan Su, "Differences in Child Health across Rural, Urban, and Slum Areas: Evidence from India," has been accepted for publication in Demography. The final version is here and the abstract for the paper is below.
The developing world is rapidly urbanizing, but our understanding of how child health differs across urban and rural areas is lacking. We examine the association between area of residence and child health in India, focusing on composition and selection effects. Simple height-for-age averages show that rural Indian children have the poorest health and urban children the best, with slum children in between. Controlling for wealth or observed health environment, the urban height-for-age advantage disappears, and slum children fare significantly worse than their rural counterparts. Hence, differences in composition across areas mask a substantial negative association between living in slums and height-for-age. This association is more negative for girls than boys. Furthermore, a large number of girls are "missing" in slums. We argue that this implies that the negative association between living in slums and health is even stronger than our estimate. The "missing" girls also help explain why slum girls appear to have a substantially lower mortality than rural girls do, whereas slum boys have a higher mortality risk than rural boys do. We estimate that slum conditions–which the survey does not adequately capture, such as overcrowding and open sewers–are associated with 20-37% of slum children's stunting risk.