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Demography

, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 223–247 | Cite as

Differences in Child Health Across Rural, Urban, and Slum Areas: Evidence From India

  • Claus C. PörtnerEmail author
  • Yu-hsuan Su
Article

Abstract

The developing world is rapidly urbanizing, but an understanding of how child health differs across urban and rural areas is lacking. We examine the association between area of residence and child health in India, focusing on composition and selection effects. Simple height-for-age averages show that rural Indian children have the poorest health and urban children have the best, with slum children in between. With wealth or observed health environment held constant, the urban height-for-age advantage disappears, and slum children fare significantly worse than their rural counterparts. Hence, differences in composition across areas mask a substantial negative association between living in slums and height-for-age. This association is more negative for girls than boys. Furthermore, a large number of girls are “missing” in slums; we argue that this implies that the negative association between living in slums and health is even stronger than our estimate. The missing girls also help explain why slum girls appear to have a substantially lower mortality than rural girls, whereas slum boys have a higher mortality risk than rural boys. We estimate that slum conditions (such as overcrowding and open sewers), which the survey does not adequately capture, are associated with 20 % to 37 % of slum children’s stunting risk.

Keywords

Child health Slum Urban Rural Sex selection 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Seik Kim, Robert Plotnick, Judith Thornton, five anonymous referees, and participants at the Population Association of America annual meetings, Pacific Conference for Development Economics, Annual Conference of the European Society for Population Economics, DIAL Development Conference, and the Labor and Development Seminar at the University of Washington for their helpful comments. Partial support for this research came from a research grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R24 HD042828) to the Center for Studies in Demography & Ecology at the University of Washington, from the Office of Research and Development of National Chengchi University, and from the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan Government (104-2914-I-004-009-A1).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics, Albers School of Business and EconomicsSeattle UniversitySeattleUSA
  2. 2.Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Graduate Institute of Development StudiesNational Chengchi UniversityTaipei CityTaiwan

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