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Cross-national variation in family influences on child health


  • Heaton, Tim B.
  • Forste, Renata
  • Hoffmann, John P.
  • Flake, Dallan


Drawing on the family process literature, child health models, and recent studies of macro-level effects on health, we examine the effects of household structure, resources, care-giving, reproduction, and communication on child nutritional status and infant mortality. Using Demographic and Health Surveys, we analyze the influence of these factors across 42 countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. We also consider country-level including nontraditional family structure, level of economic development and expenditures on health care. Our results underscore the importance of family resources, decision-making, and health and feeding practices on child well-being in less developed countries. Although there is cross-national variability, the size of the variability was small relative to the overall effect. The country-level measures had modest effects on infant mortality and child nutritional status.

Suggested Citation

  • Heaton, Tim B. & Forste, Renata & Hoffmann, John P. & Flake, Dallan, 2005. "Cross-national variation in family influences on child health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 97-108, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:60:y:2005:i:1:p:97-108

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hampshire, Katherine Rebecca & Panter-Brick, Catherine & Kilpatrick, Kate & Casiday, Rachel E., 2009. "Saving lives, preserving livelihoods: Understanding risk, decision-making and child health in a food crisis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 758-765, February.
    2. Regina Fuchs & Elsie Pamuk & Wolfgang Lutz, 2010. "Education or wealth: which matters more for reducing child mortality in developing countries?," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 8(1), pages 175-199.
    3. Gyimah, Stephen Obeng, 2009. "Polygynous marital structure and child survivorship in sub-Saharan Africa: Some empirical evidence from Ghana," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 334-342, January.
    4. Richards, Esther & Theobald, Sally & George, Asha & Kim, Julia C. & Rudert, Christiane & Jehan, Kate & Tolhurst, Rachel, 2013. "Going beyond the surface: Gendered intra-household bargaining as a social determinant of child health and nutrition in low and middle income countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 24-33.
    5. Kathryn Yount & Sarah Zureick-Brown & Nafisa Halim & Kayla LaVilla, 2014. "Fertility Decline, Girls’ Well-being, and Gender Gaps in Children’s Well-being in Poor Countries," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(2), pages 535-561, April.


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