Does the “maternal altruism hypothesis” hold true among poor populations in southern India?

Sivakami Muthusamy, Institute for Social and Economic Change

This paper attempts to test the “maternal altruism” hypothesis among poor women in southern India from a survey of 529 women and their children below 10 years. The “maternal altruism” hypothesis is tested using information pertaining to women's share of income as a percentage of household income on both monthly expenditure on food supplements and cost of treatment on health care separately. Regression results show that an increased mother’s share of income does not lead to increased expenditure on food supplements in both rural and urban areas. In other words, the analysis does not support the “maternal altruism” hypothesis as far as food supplements is concerned. Tobit analysis shows that mother’s share of income has a significant positive effect on the cost of treatment of health care in rural areas but not so in urban areas. In other words, the “maternal altruism” hypothesis gains some support in rural areas in case of health care expenditure.

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Presented in Poster Session 1