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The relationship of household assets and amenities with child health outcomes: An exploratory cross-sectional study in India 2015–2016
Authors: Omar Karlsson, Rockli Kim, William Joe, and S.V. Subramanian
Source: SSM: Population Health, 10: 100513; DOI: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2019.100513
Topic(s): Child health
Wealth Index
Country: Asia
Published: APR 2020
Abstract: Healthy development of children in India is far from ensured. Proximate determinants of poor child health outcomes are infectious diseases and undernutrition, which are linked to socioeconomic status. In low- and middle-income countries, researchers rely on wealth indices, constructed from information on households' asset ownership and amenities, to study socioeconomic disparities in child health. Some of these wealth index items can, however, directly affect the proximate determinants of child health. This paper explores the independent association of each item used to construct the Demographic and Health Surveys' wealth index with diverse child health outcomes. This cross-sectional study used nationally representative sample of 245,866 children, age 0–59 months, from the Indian National Family Health Surveys conducted in 2015–16. The study used conditional Poisson regression models as well as a range of sensitivity specifications. After controlling for socioeconomic status, health care use, maternal factors, community-level factors, and all wealth index items, the following wealth index items were the most consistently associated with child health; type of toilet facilities, water source, refrigerator, pressure cooker, type of cooking fuel, land usable for agriculture, household building material, mobile phone, and motorcycle/scooter. The association with type of toilet facilities and water source was particularly strong for mortality, showing a 16–35% and 14–28% lower mortality, respectively. Most items used to construct the Demographic and Health Surveys’ wealth index only indicate household socioeconomic status, while a few items may affect child health directly, and can be useful targets for policy intervention.