Inequities in under-five child nutritional status in South Africa. What progress has been made?

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May, J ; Timaeus, IM (2014)

Despite the emphasis given to poverty reduction in policy statements and a substantial increase in social spending, money-metric poverty has shown little improvement since South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994. Alternative approaches to measuring well-being and inequality may show a more positive trend. This article uses the 2008 National Income Dynamics Study to assess the magnitude of inequalities in under-five child malnutrition ascribable to economic status. The article compares these results with those of Zere and McIntyre, who analysed similar data collected in 1993. In both cases, household income, proxied by per-capita household expenditure, was used as the indicator of socio-economic status. Children’s heights and weights have increased since 1993 and being stunted or underweight has become less common. Furthermore, pro-rich inequalities in stunting and being underweight have significantly declined since the end of apartheid. This suggests that pro-poor improvements in child welfare have taken place. Policies that may have contributed to this include the Child Support Grant, introduced in 1998, and improvements in healthcare and the education of women.
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