Relying on longitudinal microdata from a Spanish rural region between 1750 and 1950 (almost 35,000 life courses), this article provides evidence that discriminatory practices affected sex-specific mortality during infancy and childhood. Although it is likely that families also discriminated against girls during the first year of life, female excess mortality was especially visible in the 1–5 age group. While breastfeeding seems to have temporarily mitigated the effects of gender discrimination, sex-specific mortality rates behaved very differently once children were weaned. Parents, therefore, prioritized boys during infancy and childhood in the allocation of food and/or care in order to enhance their survival chances.
Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.