Inequalities in Child Health Outcomes and Policy Implications in Developing Countries
Monday, June 13, 2016: 11:30 AM-1:00 PM
Clement House, 3rd Floor, Room 04 (London School of Economics)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Chair: Anu Rangarajan, Mathematica Policy Research
There is significant evidence that inequalities in health outcomes, especially in infancy and early childhood, contribute to differences in educational and labor market outcomes that can sustain and deepen social and economic inequalities. This is especially true in developing countries with limited resources to invest in child health. Donors and governments have implemented various policies and programs to address these inequalities, including health, feeding and nutrition programs, informational interventions, and cash transfers.
This panel presents new evidence from three studies that document inequalities in maternal and child health outcomes in developing countries, and the impact of programs that seek to address them. The panel demonstrates the existing inequalities, as well as the effects of two very different types of interventions on affecting the inequality gap. The first paper uses anthropometric data and longitudinal studies to link socio-demographic variables, maternal health, and early childhood development indicators to longer-term adult health measures and shows how early inequalities in health and nutrition can impact physical work capacity and labor productivity in adulthood. The second paper explores the existing inequalities in health care access and health outcomes by factors such as religion, literacy, caste, and wealth in Bihar, India, and examines the impacts of a large-scale, integrated maternal and child health program implemented in Bihar, the third most populous state in India. The third paper explores the wider impact of a cash transfer program in the Philippines, and demonstrates unintended consequences of the program; in particular, the program led to increases in food prices that are likely associated with worsened child health outcomes among non-beneficiary families, including increased stunting. Together, these studies contribute to the international development literature by showing how programs and policies that target child health outcomes can most effectively promote equity and benefit the most vulnerable and marginalized groups.