Inequality of Opportunity in Child Health in Ethiopia

Early childhood development such as child health and nutrition is shown to affect success and well-being later in adulthood. While child health and nutrition are influenced by among others, parental inputs and access to public services, the latter are not equitably distributed across children, leading to inequality of opportunity (IOp). Using standardized height-for-age and weight-for-height as health outcome measures, the study decomposes the total inequality in child health and nutrition in to a part attributable to child circumstances such as parental background, and access to public services—hence IOp in child health, and a part due to random variation in health.

Using the young lives survey data in 2002 and 2006, the study then demonstrates that IOp in s and nutrition has increased over this period, regardless of the method of inequality decomposition used. Further scrutiny in to child circumstances driving IOp in height-for-age reveals that while access to infrastructure accounts for the highest share of IOp in 2002, mother’s religion, household wealth, access to clean water and sanitation are more responsible for the increase in IOp in 2006. Likewise, IOp in weight-for-height is mainly driven by inequality in access to infrastructure, followed by disparities in geographic location and parental background.

by: Abdurahman Ali Hussien (MSc) and Gashaw Tsegaye Ayele (MSc)