Graduate student, Edward G. Stevenson, supervised by Dr. Carol M. Worthman, will investigate the relationship between education, life plans, and health behaviors in a community in southern Ethiopia where schooling has only recently become available. Education, and especially girls' education, has been shown to have a powerful effect on lowering child mortality. But the connection between education and improvement in children's health is not well understood. Some research suggests that improved domestic health behaviors, or increased use of health services, may be important in explaining this effect. Child feeding and child nutrition status may also change when mothers have been educated. A basis for these behavior changes may lie in the way that people who have been to school plan their life course. For mothers, the timing of having another baby, for example, can be important in determining when to wean the previous child.
This project will assess people's views of the life course through interviews and through a method involving picture cards. To assess health behaviors, researchers will collect information on frequency of visits to health clinics, domestic hygiene, and child feeding practices. Project staff will also monitor infants' growth status over a period of 18 months. By comparing variation in life plans, domestic health practices, and infant growth between households where people have been to school and those where people have not, this project aims to contribute to understanding how education and child health are connected. The project forms part of a larger program of research being conducted by members of the Laboratory for Comparative Human Biology on the effects of social opportunities and deprivation on youths' views of the life course in the USA and Africa.