Decomposing the gap in childhood undernutrition between poor and non–poor in urban India, 2005–06

Aditya Singh, A. Kumar

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Background: Despite the growing evidence from other developing countries, intra-urban inequality in childhood undernutrition is poorly researched in India. Additionally, the factors contributing to the poor/non-poor gap in childhood undernutrition have not been explored. This study aims to quantify the contribution of factors that explain the poor/non-poor gap in underweight, stunting, and wasting among children aged less than five years in urban India. Methods: We used cross-sectional data from the third round of the National Family Health Survey conducted during 2005– 06. Descriptive statistics were used to understand the gap in childhood undernutrition between the urban poor and non- poor, and across the selected covariates. Blinder–Oaxaca decomposition technique was used to explain the factors contributing to the average gap in undernutrition between poor and non-poor children in urban India. Result: Considerable proportions of urban children were found to be underweight (33%), stunted (40%), and wasted (17%) in 2005–06. The undernutrition gap between the poor and non-poor was stark in urban India. For all the three indicators, the main contributing factors were underutilization of health care services, poor body mass index of the mothers, and lower level of parental education among those living in poverty. Conclusions: The findings indicate that children belonging to poor households are undernourished due to limited use of health care services, poor health of mothers, and poor educational status of their parents. Based on the findings the study suggests that improving the public services such as basic health care and the education level of the mothers among urban poor can ameliorate the negative impact of poverty on childhood undernutrition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e64972
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2013


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