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Inequality in child undernutrition among urban population in India: a decomposition analysis
Authors: S. K. Singh, Shobhit Srivastava, and Shekhar Chauhan
Source: BMC Public Health, Volume 20, Article number: 1852
Topic(s): Education
Environmental health
Rural-urban differentials
Wealth Index
Country: Asia
Published: DEC 2020
Abstract: Background: With increasing urbanization in India, child growth among urban poor has emerged as a paramount public health concern amidst the continuously growing slum population and deteriorating quality of life. This study analyses child undernutrition among urban poor and non-poor and decomposes the contribution of various factors influencing socio-economic inequality. This paper uses data from two recent rounds of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3&4) conducted during 2005–06 and 2015–16. Methods: The concentration index (CI) and the concentration curve (CC) measure socio-economic inequality in child growth in terms of stunting, wasting, and underweight. Wagstaff decomposition further analyses key contributors in CI by segregating significant covariates into five groups-mother’s factor, health-seeking factors, environmental factors, child factors, and socio-economic factors. Results: The prevalence of child undernutrition was more pronounced among children from poor socio-economic strata. The concentration index decreased for stunting (-0.186 to -0.156), underweight (-0.213 to -0.162) and wasting (-0.116 to -0.045) from 2005 to 06 to 2015–16 respectively. The steepness in growth was more among urban poor than among urban non-poor in every age interval. Maternal education contributed about 19%, 29%, and 33% to the inequality in stunting, underweight and wasting, respectively during 2005–06. During 2005–06 as well as 2015–16, maternal factors (specifically mother’s education) were the highest contributory factors in explaining rich-poor inequality in stunting as well as underweight. More than 85% of the economic inequality in stunting, underweight, and wasting among urban children were explained by maternal factors, environmental factors, and health-seeking factors. Conclusion: All the nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions in urban areas should be prioritized, focusing on urban poor, who are often clustered in low-income slums. Rich-poor inequality in child growth calls out for integration and convergence of nutrition interventions with policy interventions aimed at poverty reduction. There is also a need to expand the scope of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program to provide mass education regarding nutrition and health by making provisions of home visits of workers primarily focusing on pregnant and lactating mothers.