Socioeconomic inequality in Indonesian children’s cognitive function: From a decomposition analysis to a marginal structural model

Class at Sentarum elementary school

Measuring social inequalities in health is common, however, research examining inequalities in child cognitive function is more limited. Amelia Maika‘s research investigated household expenditure inequality in children’s cognitive function in Indonesia in 2000 and 2007, the contributors to inequality in both time periods, and changes in the contributors to cognitive function inequalities between the periods.

Data from the 2000 and 2007 round of the Indonesian Family Life Survey (IFLS) were used. Study participants were children aged 7-14 years (n=6179 and n=6680 in 2000 and 2007, respectively). The relative concentration index (RCI) was used to measure the magnitude of inequality. Contribution of various contributors to inequality was estimated by decomposing the concentration index in 2000 and 2007. Oaxaca-type decomposition was used to estimate changes in contributors to inequality between 2000 and 2007. 

Expenditure inequality decreased by 45% from an RCI=0.29 (95% CI 0.22 to 0.36) in 2000 to 0.16 (95% CI 0.13 to 0.20) in 2007 but the burden of poorer cognitive function was higher among the disadvantaged in both years.

The largest contributors to inequality in child cognitive function were inequalities in per capita expenditure, use of improved sanitation and maternal high school attendance. 

Changes in maternal high school participation (27%), use of improved sanitation (25%) and per capita expenditures (18%) were largely responsible for the decreasing inequality in children’s cognitive function between 2000 and 2007.

Government policy to increase basic education coverage for women along with economic growth may have influenced gains in children’s cognitive function and reductions in inequalities in Indonesia.

Her current work includes the analysis ofthe causal effect of per capita expenditure on children’s cognitive outcome using the marginal structural model.

*Amelia Maika, a research scholar at Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Population Health, Discipline of Public Health – The University of Adelaide, is presenting her research findings at the GoLive Indonesia discussion series on 11 September 2013. For more information about our program please visit:


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Filed under Education, Indonesia, Methodology, PPIA academic discussion

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