The relationship of household assets and amenities with child health outcomes: an exploratory cross-sectional study in India 2015–2016

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Healthy development of children in India is far from ensured. Proximate determinants of poor child health outcomes are infectious diseases and undernutrition, which are linked to socioeconomic status. In low- and middle-income countries, researchers rely on wealth indices, constructed from information on households’ asset ownership and amenities, to study socioeconomic disparities in child health. Some of these wealth index items can, however, directly affect the proximate determinants of child health. This paper explores the independent association of each item used to construct the Demographic and Health Surveys’ wealth index with diverse child health outcomes. This cross-sectional study used nationally representative sample of 245,866 children, age 0–59 months, from the Indian National Family Health Surveys conducted in 2015–16. The study used conditional Poisson regression models as well as a range of sensitivity specifications. After controlling for socioeconomic status, health care use, maternal factors, community-level factors, and all wealth index items, the following wealth index items were the most consistently associated with child health; type of toilet facilities, water source, refrigerator, pressure cooker, type of cooking fuel, having a bank account, land usable for agriculture, floor material, roof material, mobile phone, and motorcycle/scooter. The association with type of toilet facilities and water source was particularly strong for mortality, showing a 16-35% and 14-26% lower mortality, respectively. Most items used to construct the Demographic and Health Surveys’ wealth index only indicate household socioeconomic status, while a few items may affect child health directly, and can be useful targets for policy intervention.


External organisations
  • University of Delhi
  • Harvard University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • Child health, India, Household wealth, proximate determinants, assets and amenities, nutrition
Original languageEnglish
Article number100513
JournalSSM - Population Health
Early online date2019 Nov 7
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Nov 7
Publication categoryResearch