Child Health-Related Behaviors in Southern Ghana: Is Health Knowledge Important?
Catherine N. Stiff, Brown University
This paper is concerned with the determinants of child health in Ghana. Preston and Haines (1991) theorized the "health knowledge," or knowledge of contagion and hygiene, is one route through which formal education influences child health. I examine whether health knowledge influences personal and household hygiene practices. Research presented at the 2004 PAA demonstrated that, in addition to the strong influence of formal schooling on health knowledge, other characteristics are important, including media exposure, civic participation, SES, and urban residence. In this paper I move beyond the determinants of health knowledge to examine whether health knowledge, in turn, affects behavior. I rely on primary survey data (N=2500) collected in Ghana in 2002. Preliminary results suggest that health knowledge has a positive effect on practices such as hygienic handwashing, household cleanliness, and choice of toilet facility -- even when controlling for other important influences such as education, SES, and urban residence.