Education or wealth: which matters more for reducing child mortality in developing countries?
This article systematically addresses mother’s education as a fundamental determinant of child mortality in developing countries. The main proposition is that setting the right policy priorities in developing countries requires distinguishing between the role of education and that of material resources in influencing child survival. Despite a tendency to regard both education and economic resources as interchangeable indicators of socioeconomic status, determining their relative importance with respect to child health is important because policies for enhancing one or the other can be quite different. We begin with a comprehensive review of the literature addressing the different causal mechanisms through which maternal education impacts on the health of her offspring. We include better maternal health, increased health-specific knowledge, adoption of non-traditional behaviours, and general female empowerment in addition to the effects of greater economic resources gained as a consequence of education. We use recent Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data for developing countries and examine the associations between survival of the youngest child over the first year of life, the mother’s educational attainment and the DHS indicator of household wealth both descriptively and using multivariate models. The results show that in the vast majority of countries and under virtually all models mother’s education matters more for infant survival than household wealth. Our findings challenge frequently held views and suggest a reorientation of global health policies to more directly address increasing female education as a primary policy option for improving child health.
Volume (Year): 8 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.oeaw.ac.at/vid/|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Barrera, Albino, 1990. "The role of maternal schooling and its interaction with public health programs in child health production," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 69-91, January.
- Cleland, John G. & van Ginneken, Jerome K., 1988. "Maternal education and child survival in developing countries: The search for pathways of influence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 27(12), pages 1357-1368, January.
- Julie DaVanzo & Jean-Pierre Habicht, 1986. "Infant mortality decline in Malaysia, 1946–1975: The roles of changes in variables and changes in the structure of relationships," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 23(2), pages 143-160, May.
- Becker, Stan & Fonseca-Becker, Fannie & Schenck-Yglesias, Catherine, 2006. "Husbands' and wives' reports of women's decision-making power in Western Guatemala and their effects on preventive health behaviors," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(9), pages 2313-2326, May.
- Paul Glewwe, 1999. "Why Does Mother's Schooling Raise Child Health in Developing Countries? Evidence from Morocco," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(1), pages 124-159.
- Thomas, Duncan & Strauss, John & Henriques, Maria-Helena, 1990. "Child survival, height for age and household characteristics in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 197-234, October.
- Panis, Constantijn W. A. & Lillard, Lee A., 1994.
"Health inputs and child mortality: Malaysia,"
Journal of Health Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 455-489.
- Adetunji, Jacob Ayo, 1995. "Infant mortality and mother's education in Ondo State, Nigeria," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 253-263, January.
- Lucia Breierova & Esther Duflo, 2003.
"The Impact of Education on Fertility and Child Mortality: Do Fathers Really Matter Less Than Mothers?,"
OECD Development Centre Working Papers
217, OECD Publishing.
- Lucia Breierova & Esther Duflo, 2004. "The Impact of Education on Fertility and Child Mortality: Do Fathers Really Matter Less Than Mothers?," NBER Working Papers 10513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Raghupathy, Shobana, 1996. "Education and the use of maternal health care in Thailand," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 459-471, August.
- Wong, Emelita L. & Popkin, Barry M. & Guilkey, David K. & Akin, John S., 1987. "Accessibility, quality of care and prenatal care use in the Philippines," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 24(11), pages 927-944, January.
- Victoria, Cesar G. & Huttly, Sharon R. A. & Barros, Fernando C. & Lombardi, Cintia & Vaughan, J. Patrick, 1992. "Maternal education in relation to early and late child health outcomes: Findings from a Brazilian cohort study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 899-905, April.
- Schultz, T Paul, 1993.
"Mortality Decline in the Low-Income World: Causes and Consequences,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 337-42, May.
- Schultz, T.P., 1993. "Mortality Decline in the Low Income World: Causes and Consequences," Papers 681, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
- Duncan Thomas & John Strauss & Maria-Helena Henriques, 1991. "How Does Mother's Education Affect Child Height?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(2), pages 183-211.
- Jens Kovsted & Claus C. P–rtner & Finn Tarp, 2002. "Child Health and Mortality: Does Health Knowledge Matter?," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 11(4), pages 542-560, December.
- Boyle, Michael H. & Racine, Yvonne & Georgiades, Katholiki & Snelling, Dana & Hong, Sungjin & Omariba, Walter & Hurley, Patricia & Rao-Melacini, Purnima, 2006. "The influence of economic development level, household wealth and maternal education on child health in the developing world," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(8), pages 2242-2254, October.
- 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.
- Anne Pebley & Noreen Goldman & Germán Rodríguez, 1996. "Prenatal and delivery care and childhood immunization in guatemala: Do family and community matter?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 33(2), pages 231-247, May.
- Bicego, George T. & Ties Boerma, J., 1993. "Maternal education and child survival: A comparative study of survey data from 17 countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 1207-1227, May.
- Shelah Bloom & David Wypij & Monica Gupta, 2001. "Dimensions of women’s autonomy and the influence on maternal health care utilization in a north indian city," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 38(1), pages 67-78, February.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:vid:yearbk:v:8:y:2010:i:1:p:175-199. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Frank Kolesnik)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.