Socioeconomic inequalities in skilled birth attendance and child stunting in selected low and middle income countries: Wealth quintiles or deciles?

Kerry L.M. Wong, Maria Clara Restrepo-Mendez, Alulsio J.D. Barros, Cesar G. Victora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
247 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Wealth quintiles derived from household asset indices are routinely used for measuring socioeconomic inequalities in the health of women and children in low and middle-income countries. We explore whether the use of wealth deciles rather than quintiles may be advantageous. Methods We selected 46 countries with available national surveys carried out between 2003 and 2013 and with a sample size of at least 3000 children. The outcomes were prevalence of under-five stunting and delivery by a skilled birth attendant (SBA). Differences and ratios between extreme groups for deciles (D1 and D10) and quintiles (Q1 and Q5) were calculated, as well as two summary measures: the slope index of inequality (SII) and concentration index (CIX). Results In virtually all countries, stunting prevalence was highest among the poor, and there were larger differences between D1 and D10 than between Q1 and Q5. SBA coverage showed pro-rich patterns in all countries; in four countries the gap was greater than 80 pct points. With one exception, differences between extreme deciles were larger than between quintiles. Similar patterns emerged when using ratios instead of differences. The two summary measures provide very similar results for quintiles and deciles. Patterns of top or bottom inequality varied with national coverage levels. Conclusion Researchers and policymakers should consider breakdowns by wealth deciles, when sample sizes allow. Use of deciles may contribute to advocacy efforts, monitoring inequalities over time, and targeting health interventions. Summary indices of inequalities were unaffected by the use of quintiles or deciles in their calculation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0174823
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume12
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2017

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