Socioeconomic Status and Child Mortality: An Illustration Using Housing and Household Characteristics from African Census Data

Ayaga A. Bawah, Navrongo Health Research Centre
Tukufu Zuberi, University of Pennsylvania

Housing characteristics and household possessions such as sources of water, type of toilet facilities, housing construction materials, and household possessions like radio, television, as well as animal possessions, often reflect socioeconomic status of households, especially in developing countries. It is possible therefore, to use these variables to proxy for household wealth or socioeconomic status in developing countries where income data are lacking. This is because the type of houses people reside in and their possessions tend to speak to their economic ability or purchasing power. We created a composite poverty index from these variables and examined its association with childhood mortality in three southern African countries. The results are reassuringly consistent with expectation, both simply by examining the mean distribution of the variables by the socioeconomic groups and by the relationship of these groups to childhood mortality. The chances of mortality decreased consistently with higher levels of the index.

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Presented in Session 122: SES and Child Mortality