Between Cultural Stigma and Social Advantage of Modernity: Nutritional Advantage of Children Born Out of Wedlock in Cameroon

Jacques Emina Be-Ofuriyua, Independent Consultant

The objective of this study is to compare the nutritional status of legitimate children and that of children born out of wedlock in Cameroon. The study is founded on the three major hypotheses: the cultural stigma hypothesis, the characteristics hypothesis and the hypothesis of living with single mother disadvantage. Analysis is based on 1498 children less than three years and living with their mother from the 1998 Cameroon Demographic and Health Survey. Children born out of wedlock represent 7.4 % of all children studied. The paper concludes that, while children born out of union are generally assumed to have poorer development outcomes because of their stigmatization in some societies, in Cameroon, children born out of wedlock experienced a low risk of malnourishment (26%) about 10 percents points lower than legitimate children (36%). In fact the likelihood of out of wedlock childbearing is higher among educated and/or urban women whose children are less exposed to malnourished.

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Presented in Poster Session 4