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Parental investment in child health in sub-Saharan Africa: a cross-national study of health-seeking behaviour

Uggla, C; Mace, R; (2016) Parental investment in child health in sub-Saharan Africa: a cross-national study of health-seeking behaviour. Royal Society Open Science , 3 (2) , Article 150460. 10.1098/rsos.150460. Green open access

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Abstract

Parents face trade-offs between investing in child health and other fitness enhancing activities. In humans, parental investment theory has mostly been examined through the analysis of differential child outcomes, with less emphasis on the actions parents take to further a particular offspring's condition. Here, we make use of household data on health-seeking for children in a high mortality context where such behaviours are crucial for offspring survival. Using Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from 17 sub-Saharan African countries, we examine whether maternal factors (age, health, marital status) and child factors (birth order, health, sex, age) independently influence parental investment in health-seeking behaviours: two preventative behaviours (malaria net use and immunization) and two curative ones (treating fever and diarrhoea). Results indicate that children with lower birth order, older mothers and mothers with better health status have higher odds of investment. The effects of a child's sex and health status and whether the mother is polygynously married vary depending on the type of health-seeking behaviour (preventative versus curative). We discuss how these results square with predictions from parental investment theory pertaining to the state of mothers and children, and reflect on some potential mechanisms and directions for future research.

Type: Article
Title: Parental investment in child health in sub-Saharan Africa: a cross-national study of health-seeking behaviour
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150460
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.150460
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Demographic and Health Survey, child health, health-seeking behaviour, multi-level model, parental investment theory, sub-Saharan Africa
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1477056
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