Do Property rights explain health outcomes of adolescent girls in India?

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This paper focuses on studying property rights as a pathway to social mobility by analysing how property rights determine health outcomes among adolescent girls belonging to difference socio-economic backgrounds.

Evidence from existing literature indicates that children, including adolescents, from disadvantaged sections of the society demonstrate adverse health outcomes, ceteris paribus. This, in turn, prevents them from achieving their full economic potential as adults, essentially creating an inter-generational vicious cycle between poor health outcomes and poor access to resources. There is also substantial research on health disparities amongst poor households, and those belonging to the disadvantaged, vulnerable, and marginalised sections of the society, in terms of socio-economic profile.

This study reveals the state of property rights in India and presents an analysis of issues pertaining to security of tenure in India. It also establishes the link between tenure security and property rights with type of housing and home improvements to show that type of housing is a strong indicator of security of tenure and property rights. Using data from the Teen Age Girls [TAG] survey of Project Nanhi Kali, the researchers have attempted to explore how property rights influence health outcomes of adolescent girls in India. They capture information on health outcomes using age-standardised height and BMI measures. The central findings of the analysis are that health outcomes (age-adjusted standardized height and BMI) of adolescent girls in India are systematically lower for those living in poorer quality houses and systematically higher for those in families with ownership of more household goods. Based on the existing literature, the study interprets that the type of house is a satisfactory indicator of property rights and tenure security. Thus, it draws that girls from households with tenure security fair better in terms of the standard health outcomes relative to girls from households without such security.

This creates a need for designing and implementing sustainable policy measures that would eventually uplift the overall quality of life of India’s 80 million adolescent girls. Unfortunately, within the policy arena the adolescent age group is one of the neglected subsets of the population. Therefore, on the one hand, there is a need to do more research on the pathways through which property rights and tenure security affects the adolescent girl’s health outcomes and, on the other hand, a need to pay more attention to these linkages within the policy discourse.