Birth registration coverage according to the sex of the head of household: an analysis of national surveys from 93 low- and middle-income countries
Saad, Ghada E.
Barros, Aluisio J. D.
Victora, Cesar G.
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Abstract Background Within-country inequalities in birth registration coverage (BRC) have been documented according to wealth, place of residence and other household characteristics. We investigated whether sex of the head of household was associated with BRC. Methods Using data from nationally-representative surveys (Demographic and Health Survey or Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey) from 93 low and middle-income countries (LMICs) carried out in 2010 or later, we developed a typology including three main types of households: male-headed (MHH) and female-led with or without an adult male resident. Using Poisson regression, we compared BRC for children aged less than 12 months living the three types of households within each country, and then pooled results for all countries. Analyses were also adjusted for household wealth quintiles, maternal education and urban-rural residence. Results BRC ranged from 2.2% Ethiopia to 100% in Thailand (median 79%) while the proportion of MHH ranged from 52.1% in Ukraine to 98.3% in Afghanistan (median 72.9%). In most countries the proportion of poor families was highest in FHH (no male) and lowest in FHH (any male), with MHH occupying an intermediate position. Of the 93 countries, in the adjusted analyses, FHH (no male) had significantly higher BRC than MHH in 13 countries, while in eight countries the opposite trend was observed. The pooled analyses showed t BRC ratios of 1.01 (95% CI: 1.00; 1.01) for FHH (any male) relative to MHH, and also 1.01 (95% CI: 1.00; 1.01) for FHH (no male) relative to MHH. These analyses also showed a high degree of heterogeneity among countries. Conclusion Sex of the head of household was not consistently associated with BRC in the pooled analyses but noteworthy differences in different directions were found in specific countries. Formal and informal benefits to FHH (no male), as well as women’s ability to allocate household resources to their children in FHH, may explain why this vulnerable group has managed to offset a potential disadvantage to their children.