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Community Context and Child Health: A Human Capital Perspective
Authors: Smith-Greenaway E.
Source: Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 58(3):307-321. doi: 10.1177/0022146517718897
Topic(s): Child health
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: SEP 2017
Abstract: Human capital theory suggests that education benefits individuals' and their children's health through the educational skills people acquire in school. This perspective may also be relevant at the community level: the greater presence of adults with educational skills in a community may be a reason why living in a more highly educated setting benefits health. I use Demographic and Health Survey data for 30 sub-Saharan African countries to investigate whether the percentage of literate adults-specifically women-in a community is associated with children's likelihood of survival. I characterize 13,785 African communities according to the prevalence of women who are literate. Multilevel discrete-time hazard models ( N = 536,781 children) confirm that living in a community where more women are literate is positively associated with child survival. The study supports the conceptualization of literacy, and potentially other educational skills, as forms of human capital that can spill over to benefit others. KEYWORDS: child health; community context; human capital