Child Health in Peru: Importance of Regional Variation and Community Effects on Children’s Height and Weight
Heeju Shin, University of Texas at Austin
In developing countries, height and weight are well established indicators of the health and nutritional status of children, and maternal education has generally been accepted as one of the most important influences on child health. However, the 2000 Demographic and Health Survey of Peru shows that regional and community characteristics have a stronger explanatory power for child health than maternal education. That is, in Peru, contextual inequalities dominate the effect of maternal education. This finding suggests that the role of maternal education in public policy may be over-emphasized. Fixed effect models also show the extent to which unobserved community-specific characteristics reduces the effect of maternal education on health outcomes. The contextual effect is larger for weight than for height, an important finding because low weight is more predictive of future mortality. It suggests that redistribution of health care resources are required to reduce child mortality in rural area of Peru.