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Gender Based Within-Household Inequality in Childhood Immunization in India: Changes over Time and across Regions
Authors: Singh A
Source: PLoS ONE , 7(4): e35045. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035045
Topic(s): Child health
Son preference
Country: Asia
Published: APR 2012
Abstract: Background and Objectives Despite India's substantial economic growth in the past two decades, girls in India are discriminated against in access to preventive healthcare including immunizations. Surprisingly, no study has assessed the contribution of gender based within-household discrimination to the overall inequality in immunization status of Indian children. This study therefore has two objectives: to estimate the gender based within-household inequality (GWHI) in immunization status of Indian children and to examine the inter-regional and inter-temporal variations in the GWHI. Data and Methods The present study used households with a pair of male-female siblings (aged 1–5 years) from two rounds of National Family Health Survey (NFHS, 1992–93 and 2005–06). The overall inequality in the immunization status (after controlling for age and birth order) of children was decomposed into within-households and between-households components using Mean log deviation to obtain the GWHI component. The analysis was conducted at the all-India level as well as for six specified geographical regions and at two time points (1992–93 and 2005–06). Household fixed-effects models for immunization status of children were also estimated. Results and Conclusions Findings from household fixed effects analysis indicated that the immunization scores of girls were significantly lower than that of boys. The inequality decompositions revealed that, at the all-India level, the absolute level of GWHI in immunization status decreased from 0.035 in 1992–93 to 0.023 in 2005–06. However, as a percentage of total inequality, it increased marginally (15.5% to 16.5%). In absolute terms, GWHI decreased in all the regions except in the North-East. But, as a percentage of total inequality it increased in the North-Eastern, Western and Southern regions. The main conclusions are the following: GWHI contributes substantially to the overall inequality in immunization status of Indian children; and though the overall inequality in immunization status declined in all the regions, the changes in GWHI were mixed.