Volume 24 - Article 15 | Pages 345–374

Exploring the meaning of context for health: Community influences on child health in South India

By Nancy Luke, Hongwei Xu

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Date received:16 Dec 2009
Date published:22 Feb 2011
Word count:7515
Keywords:caste, child health, child nutrition, India, low birthweight, neighborhood effects


Much research attention has been devoted to community context and health. Communities are often defined as residential spaces, such as neighborhoods, or as social groupings, such as caste in India. Using data from a group of tea estates in South India, we attempt to address important methodological challenges in the identification of neighborhood effects on child health. We find significant neighborhood effects for weight for age at age one, including a protective role for community-level women’s education, but none for birth weight. In contrast to the usual pattern in rural India, caste disparities in child health are also eliminated in this setting.

Author's Affiliation

Nancy Luke - Pennsylvania State University, United States of America [Email]
Hongwei Xu - City University of New York, United States of America [Email]

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