Early childhood development in Iran and its provinces: Inequality versus average

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Abstract

Background:

Early childhood development is influenced by family socioeconomic status in such a way that socioeconomic deprivation might be accompanied with adverse outcomes in early development of a child. This study aimed to assess early childhood development based on average and also based on the distribution of socioeconomic inequality in Iran and its provinces.

Methods:

Using data from provincially representative Multiple Indicator Demographic and Health Survey (2010), we developed a suitable latent class approach to construct a proxy of socioeconomic status. A composite index of early childhood development was used. We assessed inequality in early childhood development using the concentration index method.

Results:

At province level (n = 30), the highest and lowest averages of early childhood development were 13.60 (SD = 2.99) and 5.81 (SD = 3.29), respectively. Concentration indices indicated pro-rich inequality in early childhood development at national and provincial level. The concentration index of early childhood development was 0.087 (95% CI = 0.085-0.0098) in Iran. Moreover, the consistent positive values of the concentration indices revealed that early childhood development inequality favored best-off children in all provinces. However, early childhood development was disproportionally distributed among provinces and rated 0.016 to 0.149.

Conclusions:

Iranian children in more prosperous households reported higher early childhood development compared with those in poor households at national and provincial level. It is vital to consider inequality in addition to average level of childhood development across Iranian provinces to reach a more comprehensive understanding of childhood development for public policy action in the country.

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