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Socioeconomic status and children's health: Evidence from a low-income country

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  • Sepehri, Ardeshir
  • Guliani, Harminder

Abstract

There has been a growing empirical literature on the relationship between household socioeconomic status (SES) and children's health, and in particular, whether this SES gradient is constant or varies in strength across different life stages. Much of this literature focuses on the developed countries and less evidence has been presented for developing countries. Using Vietnam's rich National Health Survey (2001–02) and appropriate multilevel modeling this study empirically assesses the SES gradient in health and whether it varies in strength across different life stages of children aged 15 and younger (N = 45,448). The results for the interaction terms between the natural logarithm of household consumption and age groups indicate no evidence of a steeper health gradient for older children. However, health-consumption gradients are found to be sensitive to the functional form of the regression model as well as the model specification. The results for the interaction terms between consumption expenditure quintiles and age groups indicate that gradients vary in strength across ages. Not only are children from the poorest households worse off, compared to those from the richest households, but this relative disadvantage is greater among the 0–3 year olds. The inclusion of parental health status in the regression model weakens the gradients for all age groups as does the inclusion of household sources of drinking water. However, poorer children are still relatively worse off, specially the 0–3 year olds. This suggests that absolute deprivation may help explain the relative health disadvantage of younger children. Better measures of poverty alleviation are hence needed to improve children's health in a low-income country such as Vietnam.

Suggested Citation

  • Sepehri, Ardeshir & Guliani, Harminder, 2015. "Socioeconomic status and children's health: Evidence from a low-income country," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 23-31.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:130:y:2015:i:c:p:23-31
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.01.045
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