The impact of living standards on childhood mortality in South Africa: Evidence from cross-sectional data
Journal of Social Development in Africa
University of Western Cape, Department of Statistics, Private Bag X17, Bellville 7535, South Africa; University of Pennsylvania, Population Studies Centre, 3718 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States
We employ questions on household characteristics collected in the 1997 and 1998 October Household Surveys (OHSs) in South Africa and those collected in the 1998 South Africa Demographic and Health Survey (SADHS) to examine the relationship between living standards and childhood mortality. Specifically, we examine whether childhood mortality is higher in poor households than in rich households, and whether between 1997 and 1998 the risk of childhood mortality changed. Principal components analysis is employed to combine household assets as a measure of socioeconomic status (SES). An index for SES is used in a negative binomial model to examine its association with childhood mortality. Results are inconsistent between 1997 and 1998. In 1997 the risk of childhood mortality decreases as we move from the lowest quintile to the highest quintile of the SES index. In 1998 higher levels of SES are associated with higher childhood mortality. A comparison of the findings from the 1998 OHS with those from the 1998 SADHS suggests that the 1998 OHS data may be less reliable because they yield results that deviate from the pattern shown in the 1997 OHS and the 1998 SADHS. Policy issues and recommendations for further research are discussed.
child mortality; household survey; living standard; mortality risk; policy development; principal component analysis; socioeconomic status; Africa; South Africa; Southern Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa