The aim of the study was to analyse trends in the relationship between mother’s educational level and mortality of children under the year of five in Sub-Saharan Africa, from 1990 to 2015.
Data used in this study came from different waves of Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) of Sub-Saharan countries. Logistic regression and Buis’s decomposition method were used to explore the effect of mother’s educational level on the mortality of children under five years.
Although the results of our study in the selected countries show that under-five mortality rates of children born to mothers without formal education are higher than the mortality rates of children of educated mothers, it appears that differences in mortality were reduced over the past two decades. In selected countries for our study, we noticed a significant decline in mortality among children of non-educated mothers compared to the decrease in mortality rates among children of educated mothers during the period of 1990–2010. The results show that the decline in mortality of children under five years was much higher among the children born to mothers who have never received formal education—112 points drop in Malawi, over 80 in Zambia and Zimbabwe, 65 points in Burkina Faso, 56 in Congo, 43 in Namibia, 27 in Guinea, Cameroon, and 22 to 15 in Niger. However, we noted a variation in results among the countries selected for the study—in Burkina Faso (OR = 0.7), in Cameroon (OR = 0.8), in Guinea (OR = 0.8) and Niger (OR = 0.8). It is normally observed that children of mothers with 0–6 years of education are about 20% more likely to survive until their fifth year compared to children of mothers who have not been to school. Conversely, the results did not reveal significant differences between the under-five deaths of children born to non-educated mothers and children of low-level educated mothers in Congo, Malawi and Namibia.
The decline in under-five mortality rates, during last two decades, can be partly due to the government policies on women’s education. It is evident that women’s educational level has resulted in increased maternal awareness about infant health and hygiene, thereby bringing about a decline in the under-five mortality rates. This reduction is due to improved supply of health care programmes and health policies in reducing economic inequalities and increasing access to health care.