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Measuring early childhood health: a composite index comparing Colombian departments

  • Ana María Osorio

    ()

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Barcelona)

  • Catalina Bolancé

    ()

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Barcelona)

  • Manuela Alcañiz

    ()

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Barcelona)

This paper presents a composite index of early childhood health using a multivariate statistical approach. The index shows how child health varies across Colombian departments (administrative subdivisions). In recent years there has been growing interest in composite indicators as an efficient analysis tool and a way of prioritizing policies. These indicators not only enable multi-dimensional phenomena to be simplified but also make it easier to measure, visualize, monitor and compare a country’s performance in particular issues. We used data collected from the Colombian Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) for 32 departments and the capital city, Bogotá, in 2005 and 2010. The variables included in the index provide a measure of three dimensions related to child health: health status, health determinants and the health system. In order to generate the weight of the variables and take into account the discrete nature of the data, we employed a principal component analysis (PCA) using polychoric correlation. From this method, five principal components were selected. The index was estimated using a weighted average of the components retained. A hierarchical cluster analysis was also carried out. We observed that the departments ranking in the lowest positions are located on the Colombian periphery. They are departments with low per capita incomes and they present critical social indicators. The results suggest that the regional disparities in child health may be associated with differences in parental characteristics, household conditions and economic development levels, which makes clear the importance of context in the study of child health in Colombia.

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File URL: http://www.ub.edu/irea/working_papers/2011/201122.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics in its series IREA Working Papers with number 201122.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2011
Date of revision: Oct 2011
Handle: RePEc:ira:wpaper:201122
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