Determinants of breastfeeding: the case of a Philippine urban barangay

Rachel M. Tanaka


This paper determines the factors that affect breastfeeding initiation and continuation in a low-income urban barangay in the Philippines based on a survey done in 2005. It incorporates the framework by Chatterji and Frick [2003] that considers how a mother maximizes her utility in each period. The odds ratios in this case show that family income, number of children, age, and the mother’s educational attainment and her belief in the superiority of breast milk determine whether a mother initially feeds her child with breast milk or not. On the other hand, continuation of breastfeeding is also attributed to these factors (except education) plus the number of children, the age of the last-born, and whether the last-born was fed initially with breast milk or not. This paper concludes that breastfeeding measures should therefore be aimed at promoting awareness among mothers of the economic and health benefits of breastfeeding and at supporting its initiation right after delivery. This form of human capital investment should be viewed as more important than incomegenerating activities, especially for mothers of high-income families who can afford to take a leave from work to feed their babies.


JEL classification: D1, I10


breastfeeding; human capital

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