The Role of Socio-economic and Cultural Factors on Infant and Child Sex Mortality Differential in Kenya
This study was aimed at investigating the role of socioeconomic and cultural factors and isolate the potential determinants of sex mortality differential during the childhood period at the national level in Kenya. The major objective was to explore the variation of mortality by sex under different categories of selected socio-economic and cultural variables from the 1993 Kenya Demographic and Health survey data (KDHS 1993) I and then asses and isolate the potential determinants of the sex differences in mortality. The socio-economic and cultural variables investigated include: level of education of mothers place of residence of mothers marital status of mothers current type of employment of mothers region of residence of mothers I ; the religious affiliation of mothers I and the ethnic origin of mothers I • Each variable was splitted into different categories. The Trussell variant of the original Brass method was used to determine infant and child mortality levels whereas multivariable regression method was employed to isolate the potential determinants of mortality at the childhood period by sex. In general the factors investigated were found to contain large variation in infant and child sex differences in mortality rates. Excess female child mortality rates were observed among 'children of mothers: with no education; residing in urban/areas; who are working away from home; who are widowed or divorced; residing in Nyanza and Central provinces; with Catholic religious affiliation; and, from Nilotic ethnic origin. Among the categories Nyanza province recorded the highest excess female child deaths whereas Eastern province recorded the highest male child deaths. Although the direction of childhood mortality change among the various socio-economic groups was found to be the same for males and females, the magnitudes of the change were found to vary by sex. In the multivariate analysis the proportion of variance of the dependent variable explained by the selected socio-economic and cultural variables was found to be relatively small; and this was attributed to, the non linearity of some relationships, the high random variation that might exist while using a mortality indicator as dependent variable and the non inclusion of some important variables related to individual child risk of death. However, the F-test values of the analysis confirmed that the model was statistically significant. Education and ethnicity variables were found to explain most of the observed variation. In all, level of maternal education, type of employment of mothers', marital status of mothers' and the ethnic origin of mothers' were found to be important determinants of the proportion of children dead of both the sexes. In addition urban place of residence was found to be a potential determinant of the proportion of male children dead compared to rural place of residence. Primary and secondary and above level of maternal education and other Bantus ethnic origin of mothers' were found to have reduction effect on child mortality. Children of mothers working away, working at home, widowed and divorced have relatively higher mortality rates when compared with the selected background reference categories for both the sexes. Urban place of residence, in the case of male children was. found to have a reduction effect on child mortality. In view of the results of the demographic and statistical analysis this study recommended that policy makers and planners have to integrate gender issues in development planning so as to facilitate equal opportunities for both the sexes at any level of socio-economic strata and In any cultural set-up. It also recommended deep and comprehensive studies to be conducted in this area.