Exploring Distributional Changes in Growth Gaps between Rural and Estate Children in Sri Lanka
Malnutrition can cause lags in long-term growth in children, particularly below the age of 5. This also has the potential to cause developmental impediments well into adolescent years. In Sri Lanka, malnutrition in children, while being high, also varies significantly across urban, rural and estate areas. We explore this variation by decomposing sectoral gaps in the long-term growth of children below the age of 5. Using Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data across two waves, we use linear regression models and the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition to decompose sectoral gaps in height-for-age of children. Results suggest that significant gaps in child growth exist between the three sectors. Key areas, such as women’s health and ante-natal care, are identified as channels which would improve long-term child growth within sectors while also reducing sectoral gaps.
Keywords: Child growth, malnutrition, Sri Lanka, sector, urban, rural, estate