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Evolution of opportunities for early childhood development in Arab countries

Vladimir Hlasny (Department of Economics, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)

International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare

ISSN: 2056-4902

Article publication date: 11 September 2017



The purpose of this paper is to evaluate opportunities for early childhood development (ECD) regarding children’s prenatal care, access to nutrition, health, parental care and cognitive-developmental activities, in 33 surveys from 13 countries. A total of 15 indicators for children’s opportunities are assessed including their typical level, inequality across demographic groups, and factors responsible.


Probability regressions estimate the effects of various household circumstances on children’s engagement in development opportunities. Dissimilarity indexes and human opportunity indexes are computed for each ECD dimension. To understand the impact of each household characteristic, Shorrocks-Shapley decomposition is performed.


ECD opportunities are poor but improving and becoming more equal across many countries. Progress is uneven. As may be expected, household wealth affects inequality for ECD opportunities facilitated by markets or governments, but not non-market opportunities. For preventive healthcare and preschool enrollment, access is deteriorating, reflecting low priority given to them in public policy. Children’s height falls behind in the first two years of children’s life, suggesting the need for targeted institutional interventions. Surprisingly, countries experiencing uprisings see conditions improving, while other Arab countries see them stagnating or deteriorating.


Local and national policy should tackle the identified opportunity gaps. Policymakers should allocate proper investment in medical and educational infrastructure and better coordinate support for disadvantaged families to ensure proper prenatal and ECD. International organizations should provide assistance with these programs.



Hlasny, V. (2017), "Evolution of opportunities for early childhood development in Arab countries", International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 256-276.



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