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Grandparents and Children's stunting in sub-Saharan Africa
Authors: Sandor Schrijner, and Jeroen Smits
Source: Social Science and Medicine, 205: 90-98; DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.03.037
Topic(s): Child health
Children under five
Family structure
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: MAR 2018
Abstract: Globally an estimated 159 million children under 5 years of age are being too short for one's age (stunted). More than one third of these children is living in Africa. Given the substantial number of sub-Saharan African (SSA) children living in households with co-residing grandparents and the negative effects of stunting on productivity and economic growth, gaining insight into the role grandparents play for children's stunting, has become increasingly important. By applying multilevel logistic regression analysis on a database with information on 344,748 children aged 6–60 months living in 31 SSA countries, the strength of the relationship between grandparental co-residence and children's stunting is examined. Interaction analysis is used to explore how this relationship is moderated by characteristics of the household and of the context in which the household is situated. Children in households with a co-residing grandmother have significantly lower odds of being stunted than other children, provided that the grandmother is in the 50–75 age range. When the grandmother is very young or very old, the likelihood of being stunted is higher. For grandfathers, no significant overall relationship is found, but our findings show that co-residence of a grandfather is associated with less stunting of girls, in poor households and in polygamous households.