IFPRI seminar: Are Fathers’ Gender Attitudes Associated with Child Health Outcomes? Evidence on Child Undernutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa?

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Please join virtually a seminar happening today, Wednesday, December 2, from 12-1pm. Instructions for GoToMeeting are below.


Extant research on child well-being in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has focused on the link between maternal characteristics and improved child health outcomes. More recently, programmatic efforts have emphasized engaging men in health promotion activities. Yet, conceptual frameworks and empirical evidence on how fathers’ gender attitudes may influence child health have not been developed. In this paper, we explore whether men’s gender attitudes are associated with key markers of cumulative child health status. We first build a conceptual framework linking fathers’ gender attitudes to child health. We then test the association between fathers’ gender attitudes (specifically rejection of wife beating in all of five specific circumstances) and poor child growth (being stunted or underweight) among children under 5, using data from the Demographic and Health Surveys in 22 SSA countries.

In cross-country pooled analysis with cluster-level fixed-effects, we find that fathers’ rejection of wife-beating norms significantly predicts lower odds of both stunted (OR=.93, p<.01, n=60,109) and underweight (OR=.93, p<.01, n=49,387), even after controlling for a range of confounding factors, whereas mothers’ attitudes included in the same model are not significant. In country-specific models, fathers’ rejection of wife-beating norms is associated with lower odds of stunted in Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Mozambique, Senegal, Togo, and Uganda, and lower odds of underweight in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Guinea, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Uganda. This study provides the first suggestive empirical evidence that shaping men’s gender attitudes and involving men in child health programming may improve child health outcomes.

This paper is co-authored by Jasmine Fledderjohann of the University of Oxford.

Presenter Bio

Jessica Heckert is an Associate Research Fellow in the Poverty, Health, and Nutrition Division at IFPRI. She is a social demographer and earned a PhD in Demography and Human Development and Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University in 2013. Currently, she studies (1) the impacts of large-scale nutrition interventions on maternal and child health and nutrition in Burundi and Guatemala and (2) the links between women’s empowerment and maternal and child health and nutrition. Her previous work has focused on health and migration during adolescence.

Go To Meeting:

  1. Please join my meeting.



  1. Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) – a headset is recommended. Or, call in using your telephone.


Dial +1 (657) 220-3412

Access Code: 145-310-949

Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting


Meeting ID: 145-310-949


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