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Children's nutritional status in female-headed households in the Dominican Republic


  • Johnson, F. Catherine
  • Rogers, Beatrice Lorge


A national representative household survey of food consumption, income, and expenditure was conducted in the Dominican Republic in 1986 by Tufts University School of Nutrition in cooperation with USAID Office of Nutrition [1: Rogers B.L. and Swindale A. Determinants of Food Consumption in the Dominican Republic. USAID/S & T/Nutrition, Washington, DC, 1988]. Out of 1440 families surveyed 706 had children under 6 years of age. Anthropometric indicators of height and weight were collected for all 1251 children in the sample in a follow-up study conducted from December 1986 to January 1987 by Tufts with USAID/Santo Domingo Mission funding. Anthropometric measurement were converted to (HAZ), weight-for-age (WAZ), and weight-for-height (WHZ). Earnings in families with children having males as heads-of-household were roughly one-third greater than in thosse with females as household head; total income was also greater in these families, though not significantly. More calories and protein per adult equivalent were available in male-headed families as well. In spite of this economic and dietary situation there was a trend throughout the entire sample for children of female-headed households to be taller and heavier for their age than those of two parent homes; all three anthropometric measures showed differences in the same direction. In the lowest expenditure quartile, WAZ and WHZ were significantly greater to children in female-headed households than their counterparts in male-headed households (WAZ: P = 0.01, WHZ: P = 0.00). This finding remained significant even when controlling for the mother's employment outside the home. Multivariate regression analysis of children from households in the lowest quartile revealed a significant positive association between the percentage of household earnings from women and nutritional status, particularly HAZ. The percentage of income from women was highly significant, and its beta coefficient was high compared with other significant variables included in the model. This positive effect remained strong even when controlling for income, mother's schooling, and such child characteristics as birthweight, birth order and age. It is concluded that at low income level in the Dominican Republic, children from female-headed households are at least as well nourished as children living in male-headed households of the same income class; this may be explained in part, by female-generated income.

Suggested Citation

  • Johnson, F. Catherine & Rogers, Beatrice Lorge, 1993. "Children's nutritional status in female-headed households in the Dominican Republic," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 37(11), pages 1293-1301, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:37:y:1993:i:11:p:1293-1301

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    Cited by:

    1. Haddad, Lawrence James & Peña, Christine & Nishida, Chizuru & Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Slack, Alison T., 1996. "Food security and nutrition implications of intrahousehold bias," FCND discussion papers 19, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Gordillo, Gustavo & Winters, Paul C. & Corral, Leonardo, 2000. "Food Insecurity and Vulnerability in Latin America and the Caribbean," Working Papers 12900, University of New England, School of Economics.
    3. Chudgar, Amita, 2011. "Female Headship and Schooling Outcomes in Rural India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 550-560, April.
    4. Xu, Zeyu, 2007. "A survey on intra-household models and evidence," MPRA Paper 3763, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Engle, Patrice L. & Menon, Purnima & Haddad, Lawrence, 1999. "Care and Nutrition: Concepts and Measurement," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(8), pages 1309-1337, August.
    6. Engle, Patrice L. & Menon, Purnima & Garrett, James L. & Slack, Alison T., 1997. "Developing a research and action agenda for examining urbanization and caregiving," FCND discussion papers 28, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    7. Appleton, Simon, 1996. "Women-headed households and household welfare: An empirical deconstruction for Uganda," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(12), pages 1811-1827, December.
    8. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1380-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Handa, Sudhanshu, 1996. "Expenditure behavior and children's welfare: An analysis of female headed households in Jamaica," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 165-187, June.
    10. Engle, Patrice L. & Castle, Sarah & Menon, Purnima, 1996. "Child development," FCND discussion papers 12, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    11. Beatrice Lorge Rogers & Jennifer Coates, 2002. "Food-Based Safety Nets and Related Programs," Working Papers in Food Policy and Nutrition 12, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
    12. Monazza Aslam & Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, 2008. "Gender and household education expenditure in Pakistan," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(20), pages 2573-2591.


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