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Inequality of Opportunity in Child Health in the Arab World and Turkey

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  • Ragui Assaad

    () (University of Minnesota)

  • Caroline Krafft

    () (Department of Economics, St. Catherine University)

  • Nadia Belhaj Hassine
  • Djavad Salehi-Isfahan

    ()

Abstract

Health and nutrition during a child’s first years are crucial to his/her health and wellbeing later in life. Growth and development in childhood is determined by both genotype (nature) and phenotype (nurture), with the influence of the latter being particularly crucial during a child’s first few years (Martorell and Habicht 1986). In this paper, we examine the patterns of inequality of opportunity in health and nutrition outcomes, such as height-for-age and weight-for-height, for children under five in selected Arab Countries and Turkey, using Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data. Our objective is to decompose inequality into a portion that is due to inequality of opportunity, and a portion due to other factors, such as random variations in health. Inequality of opportunity is defined as in Romer (1998) as the inequality that is due to differences in circumstances, such as parental characteristics, household wealth, place of birth and gender. We measure inequality using decomposable general entropy measures, such as Theil’s-L and Theil’s-T indices. We use both parametric and non-parametric decomposition methods to determine the share of inequality of opportunity in total inequality. The results show that different levels and trends are evident across countries in both overall inequality and in the share of inequality of opportunity. Inequality of opportunity is shown to contribute substantially to the inequality of child health outcomes, but its share in total inequality varies significantly, both across and within countries over time. To further highlight the relative contribution of circumstances to the inequality of child health outcomes in different countries, we simulate height and weight outcomes for a most and least advantaged child in each context. Since these simulations observed circumstances at their best and worst levels, the larger the difference in predicted outcomes between the most and least advantaged child, the greater the inequality of opportunity facing children in that country.

Suggested Citation

  • Ragui Assaad & Caroline Krafft & Nadia Belhaj Hassine & Djavad Salehi-Isfahan, 2012. "Inequality of Opportunity in Child Health in the Arab World and Turkey," Working Papers 665, Economic Research Forum, revised 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:erg:wpaper:665
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jorge M. Aguero & Michael R. Carter & Ingrid Woolard, 2006. "The Impact of Unconditional Cash Transfers on Nutrition: The South African Child Support Grant," SALDRU Working Papers 8, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    2. Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Jérémie Gignoux, 2011. "The Measurement Of Inequality Of Opportunity: Theory And An Application To Latin America," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 57(4), pages 622-657, December.
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    9. Ragui Assaad & Caroline Krafft & Nadia Belhaj Hassine & Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, 2012. "Inequality Of Opportunity In Child Health In The Arab World And Turkey," Middle East Development Journal (MEDJ), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 4(02), pages 1-37.
    10. 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.
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    12. Aturupane, Harsha & Deolalikar, Anil B. & Gunewardena, Dileni, 2008. "The Determinants of Child Weight and Height in Sri Lanka: A Quantile Regression Approach," WIDER Working Paper Series 053, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
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    Cited by:

    1. Djavad Salehi-Isfahani & Nadia Belhaj Hassine, 2012. "Equality of Opportunity in Education in the Middle East and North Africa," Working Papers e07-33, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Economics.
    2. Aysit Tansel, 2015. "Inequality of Opportunities of Educational Achievement in Turkey over Time," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1506, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    3. repec:spr:chinre:v:11:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s12187-017-9447-x is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Mohamed Amara & Hatem Jemmali, 2017. "On the Decomposition and Dynamics of Inequality of Opportunities: A Special Focus on Early Childhood Health and Nutrition in Tunisia," Working Papers 1093, Economic Research Forum, revised 05 Nov 2017.
    5. Ragui Assaad & Caroline Krafft & John Roemer & Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, 2016. "Inequality of Opportunity in Income and Consumption: the Middle East and North Africa Region in Comparative Perspective," Working Papers 1003, Economic Research Forum, revised May 2016.
    6. Ragui Assaad & Caroline Krafft & Nadia Belhaj Hassine & Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, 2012. "Inequality Of Opportunity In Child Health In The Arab World And Turkey," Middle East Development Journal (MEDJ), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 4(02), pages 1-37.
    7. Djavad Salehi-Isfahani & Nadia Hassine & Ragui Assaad, 2014. "Equality of opportunity in educational achievement in the Middle East and North Africa," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 12(4), pages 489-515, December.
    8. Hassine, Nadia Belhaj, 2014. "Economic inequality in the Arab region," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6911, The World Bank.
    9. Hatem Jemmali, 2016. "Inequality of Opportunities among Tunisian Children over Time and Space," Working Papers 1048, Economic Research Forum, revised 09 Jan 2016.
    10. Ragui Assaad & Caroline Krafft & John Roemer & Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, 2016. "Inequality of Opportunity in Income and Consumption in Egypt," Working Papers 1002, Economic Research Forum, revised May 2016.
    11. Caroline Krafft & Safaa El-Kogali, 2014. "Inequalities in Early Childhood Development in the Middle East and North Africa," Working Papers 856, Economic Research Forum, revised Nov 2014.

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