Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Healthcare Policy & Research

First Advisor

Dr. Tiffany L. Green


This dissertation is a collection of three separate essays on the health of women and children. In the first essay, I along with my co-authors, analyzed the impact of two large, national-level health policies (the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) and the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)) on maternal health outcomes (proportion of institutional deliveries) in India. We used data from the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) and found that the JSY and the NRHM had a greater impact on institutional deliveries in high-focus states. We also found that the conditions of the public health facilities, did not change after the implementation of the JSY and the NRHM. Finally, we found that adequacy of health facilities was not associated with the likelihood of mothers in high-focus states having an institutional delivery. In the second essay, I examined whether a key social determinant of health in South Asia- gender inequality, is associated with physical health outcomes among Indian women. I found that the gender inequality expressed as the gendered household practice of seclusion was negatively associated with body weight of Indian women. Further, I found that participation in all household decisions by women of the household was generally not associated with body weight outcomes. The association between gendered household practices and women’s body weight outcomes was generally similar among rural and urban Indian women. In the final essay, I examined whether perinatal food environments (FE), maternal gestational weight gain (GWG) and early childhood weight (ECW) outcomes are associated. I used data on mother-children dyads from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Birth cohort (ECLS-B), Area Resource Files (ARF) and Current Business Practices (CBP). I found that maternal GWG was associated with ECW outcomes. I also found that measures of food environment were associated with ECW outcomes. Specifically, I found that having an additional full-service restaurant per one thousand population in the maternal perinatal county of residence was associated with lower Body Mass Index (BMI) among children at age two years. Finally, I found that GWG did not mediate the association between food environment and ECW outcomes.


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