Maternal Education or Household Wealth: Which is the Best Predictor of Child Malnutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa?

Jean-Christophe Fotso, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
Rebecca Firestone, Harvard School of Public Health

Though a continually growing body of research suggests the prominence of maternal education as predictor of child health and survival in developing countries, the extent to which the relationship merely reflects the impact of economic advantage has not yet been fully elucidated. This paper examines Demographic and Health Surveys data of 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa with the goal of 1) comparing the effects of maternal education and household wealth on child malnutrition, and 2) investigating the pathways between maternal schooling and household wealth as determinants of child undernutrition. Multilevel regression results show that household wealth tends to be more robust, and to have higher power in predicting child malnutrition, than maternal education. This finding therefore suggests that while education remains critical in improving child health, wealth-related factors such as improved water and sanitation, and access to food and health care, are also at least as important.

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Presented in Poster Session 2