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

  • Johnson, F. Catherine
  • Rogers, Beatrice Lorge
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    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.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 37 (1993)
    Issue (Month): 11 (December)
    Pages: 1293-1301

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:37:y:1993:i:11:p:1293-1301
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