Association Between Economic Inequality and Under-Five Child Malnutrition: Evidence from Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey

A H M Musfiqur Rahman Nabeen, Md. Abdus Salam Akanda


Under-five child malnutrition is an important phenomenon in developing countries like Bangladesh. Historically certain privileged groups have been benefited by the improvements in economic conditions inflicting health care inequality among the population. This study attempts to examine the association between economic inequality of households and adverse under-five child malnutrition using information from 4,976 children aged 0 to 59 months of Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey, 2014 data. A child is said to be an adversely malnourished if the growth rate is badly stunted i.e., if z-score of the measure height-for-age of a child is more than the two standard deviations under the median. Multivariate logistic regression is used to estimate the household’s economic effect on the rate of adverse growth-stunting of children. The estimation results show that children from the poorest group are about four times more likely to experience malnutrition than the children from the richest group (OR = 4.32; 95% CI: 3.83, 5.07). The effects of economic status on childhood under-nutrition are also significant when the analysis is adjusted for child’s age, gender, multiple birth status, antenatal care, skilled birth assistance, birth order number (OR=3.43; 95% CI: 3.04, 3.87); mother’s BMI, mother’s education level (OR=3.05; 95% CI: 2.71, 3.48); residence type, and geographic region (OR = 3.14; 95% CI: 2.74, 3.63). Hence, this study suggests that there is a statistically significant association between the household economic inequality and the growth rate stunting of children. Reduction of poverty and making social security services as well as maternal medical supports more available to the poor people are necessary to improve the overall under-five childhood malnutrition condition in Bangladesh.


Economic inequality, Malnutrition, Growth-rate stunting, Odds ratio, Bangladesh.

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Dhaka University Journal of Science ISSN 1022-2502 (Print) 2408-8528 (Online)