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Sex inequality in under-five deaths and associated factors in low and middle-income countries: a Fairlie decomposition analysis
Authors: Adeniyi Francis Fagbamigbe, Oyewale Mayowa Morakinyo & Folusho Mubowale Balogun
Source: BMC Public Health, Volume 22, issue 334; DOI:
Topic(s): Children under five
Son preference
Country: More than one region
  Multiple Regions
Published: FEB 2022
Abstract: Background: There exist sex disparities in the burden of Under-five deaths (U5D) with a higher prevalence among male children. Factors explaining this inequality remain unexplored in Low-and Medium-Income Countries (LMIC). This study quantified the contributions of the individual- and neighborhood-level factors to sex inequalities in U5D in LMIC. Methods: Demographic and Health Survey datasets (2010-2018) of 856,987 under-five children nested in 66,495 neighborhoods across 59 LMIC were analyzed. The outcome variable was U5D. The main group variable was the sex of the child while individual-level and neighborhood-level factors were the explanatory variables. Fairlie decomposition analysis was used to quantify the contributions of explanatory factors to the male-female inequalities in U5D at p<0.05. Results: Overall weighted prevalence of U5D was 51/1000 children, 55 among males and 48 among females (p<0.001). Higher prevalence of U5D was recorded among male children in all countries except Liberia, Kyrgyz Republic, Bangladesh, Nepal, Armenia, Turkey and Papua New Guinea. Pro-female inequality was however not significant in any country. Of the 59 countries, 25 had statistically significant pro-male inequality. Different factors contributed to the sex inequality in U5D in different countries including birth order, birth weight, birth interval and multiple births. Conclusions: There were sex inequalities in the U5D in LMIC with prominent pro-male-inequality in many countries. Interventions targeted towards the improvement of the health system that will, in turn, prevent preterm delivery and improve management of prematurity and early childhood infection (which are selective threats to the male child survival) are urgently required to address this inequality.