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Socio-Economic Factors Affecting Early Childhood Health: the Case of Turkey

In this study we examine the association between parents' socioeconomic status (SES) and childhood health in Turkey, a middle income, developing country using the 2013 round of Demographic Health Survey (DHS) data set. In our investigation, we focus on 7-to-59-month-old children and as a measure of health status, we use the height-for-age z-score, which is the measure of stunting and wasting. In order to overcome the biases with respect to age and gender, we calculate the child's standardized height measure. Using classical regression techniques, after controlling for the child's birth order, birth weight, mother's height, mother's breastfeeding, nutrition status and pre-school attendance, the impact of parents' SES on child's health measures is assessed, and the SES indicators include region of residence, number of household members, father's presence, parents' education and work status, and a wealth index based on the household's asset holdings. Our results indicate that urban residence is a dominant factor that enhances the child's health status in Turkey: convenient access to health care services as well as better living conditions and infrastructure such as sanitation, access to clean water, availability of electricity, which are more readily available in urban areas, consistently improve the child's health outcomes, regardless of other SES factors. Additionally, we find that mother's education level is also crucial in determining the child's health status: it is more likely that educated mothers have access to information for better health, and they make more efficient use of available health care services for their children.