There is substantial evidence that on average, urban children have better health outcomes than rural children. This paper investigates the underlying factors that account for the regional disparities in child malnutrition in three Arab countries, namely; Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen. We use data on a nationally representative sample from the most recent rounds of the Demographic and Health Survey. A Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition analysis is conducted to decompose the rural-urban differences in child nutrition outcomes into two components; one that is explained by regional differences in the level of the determinants (covariate effects), and another component that is explained by differences in the effect of the determinants on the child nutritional status (coefficient effects). Results show that the under-five stunting rates are 20 % in Egypt, 46.5 % in Yemen, and 7.7 % in Jordan. The rural- urban gap in child malnutrition was minor in the case of Egypt (2.3 %) and Jordan (1.5 %), while the regional gap was significant in the case of Yemen (17.7 %). Results of the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition show that the covariate effect is dominant in the case of Yemen while the coefficients effect dominates in the case of Jordan. Income inequality between urban and rural households explains most of the malnutrition gap. Results were robust to the different decomposition weighting schemes. By identifying the underlying factors behind the rural- urban health disparities, the findings of this paper help in designing effective intervention measures aimed at reducing regional inequalities and improving population health outcomes.
Child malnutrition Rural-urban inequality Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition Egypt Jordan Yemen