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Independent Associations of Maternal Education and Household Wealth with Malaria Risk in Children

José G. Siri, Wittgenstein Center, World Population Program, IIASA


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Despite evidence that they play similar but independent roles, maternal education and household wealth are usually conflated in studies of the effects of socioeconomic status (SES) on malaria risk. Demographic and Health Survey and Malaria Indicator Survey data from nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa were used to explore the relationship of malaria parasitemia in children with SES factors at individual and cluster scales, controlling for urban/rural residence and other important covariates. In multilevel logistic regression modeling, completion of six years of maternal schooling was associated with significantly lower odds of infection in children (OR = 0.73), as was a household wealth index at the 40th percentile compared to the lowest percentile (OR = 0.48). These relationships were nonlinear, with significant quadratic terms for both education and wealth. Cluster-level wealth index was also associated with a reduction in risk (OR = 0.984 for a one percentile increase in mean wealth index), as was urban residence (OR = 0.59). Among other covariates, increasing child’s age and household size category were positively correlated with infection, and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet the previous night (OR = 0.80) was associated with a moderate reduction in risk. Considerable variation in parameter estimates was observed among country-specific models. Future work should clearly distinguish between maternal education and household resources in assessing malaria risk, and malaria prevention and control efforts should be aware of the potential benefits of supporting the development of human capital.

Key words

Demographic and Health Survey; DHS; malaria; Malaria Indicator Survey; maternal education; MIS; multilevel modeling; socioeconomic factors

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087