Road Access, Fertility and Child Health in Rural India

27 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2022

See all articles by Aparajita Dasgupta

Aparajita Dasgupta

Ashoka University

Anahita Karandikar

University of British Columbia (UBC)

Devvrat Raghav

Ashoka University

Date Written: October 14, 2022


Expansion in access to public infrastructure can have varied, micro-level impacts. In this paper, we use quasi-random access to rural paved roads through a large-scale road-construction program in India to study how road access impacts fertility decisions and investments in child health. We find that increased access to paved roads at the district-level leads to a rise in fertility, improved investments in children---measured through breastfeeding duration and immunization---and lower infant mortality. We also investigate the potential labor market mechanisms that drive these effects, and heterogeneity in the impacts by plausibly exogenous variation in levels of female labor force participation (FLFP). We find that in districts with erstwhile lower levels of FLFP, the effects on fertility and child health are driven by paved road access causing women to drop out of the labour force, while men shift from unpaid work to paid work. On the other hand, in districts with higher FLFP due to women's involvement in agriculture, we find that the increase in fertility can be explained by women substituting away from (paid) employment towards full-time domestic work.

Funding Information: None.

Conflict of Interests: None.

Keywords: Infrastructure, PMGSY, Fertility, Healthcare, Mortality, Labour markets, Gender norms, India

JEL Classification: I12, I15, O12, O15, O18, R23

Suggested Citation

Dasgupta, Aparajita and Karandikar, Anahita and Raghav, Devvrat, Road Access, Fertility and Child Health in Rural India (October 14, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Aparajita Dasgupta (Contact Author)

Ashoka University ( email )

University Campus, Plot #2,
Rajiv Gandhi Education City
Kundli, Haryana 131028

Anahita Karandikar

University of British Columbia (UBC) ( email )

Devvrat Raghav

Ashoka University ( email )

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