Socio-Economic Inequality Among Children In Sub Saharan Africa: Trends, Drivers And Institutional Buffers
Children in sub Saharan Africa are growing up in an environment of poverty, chronic hunger, disease and inequality. Previous literature documents the nature, causes, and consequences of poverty but largely ignores inequality. Yet, ongoing economic, demographic and cultural transformations suggest possible divergence in both economic investments and social outcomes for children. This dissertation provides several substantive, theoretical, methodological, and policy contributions towards an understanding of socio-economic inequality among children within and across sub Saharan African countries. Methodologically, it draws on data from Penn World Tables, World Bank World Development Indicators, and Demographic and Health Surveys to explore three issues. First, i t applies standard inequality measures to estimate levels and trends in educational resource and mortality inequality among children. Second, it applies decomposition techniques to account for factors that drive resource inequality. Third, it evaluates the effectiveness of informal institutions that are historically relied upon to buffer inequality among children. Specifically, it applies an innovative concentration index to evaluate the macro level effectiveness of African extended family systems and how they changed over time. Additionally, it estimates multivariate regression models that explain variation in fosterage prevalence and effectiveness across countries. Substantively, this study reveals substantial levels of educational resource inequality among children that are partly driven by the size of country's economy and countries' relative allocation to children. In addition, demographic factors such as age dependency drive inequality more than the size of child population within country per se. Further, the study cautions against inferring about children's experiences from adult data as observed resource inequality among children is more than double adult rates. While child mortality inequality between countries is low, DHS data reveals steep m ortality gradients along socio-economic lines within countries. With significant variation across countries, the African extended family system continues to buffer inequality among children in terms of scope of coverage but its effectiveness waned over ti me in some countries. Overall, the study makes theoretical propositions about trends, drivers, and buffers of inequality among children. Like poverty, inequality deserves a place at the center of intellectual enquiry and policy debates on children's well being in sub Saharan Africa.
Socio-economic inequality; poverty; Children; sub Saharan Africa
Eloundou-Enyegue, Parfait M.
Christy, Ralph Dean; Allen, Josephine Aona Valeri
Ph. D., Development Sociology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis