Background: Despite recent progress in improving access to maternal health services, the utilization of these services remains inequitable among women in developing countries, and rural women are particularly disadvantaged. This study sought to measure i) disparities in the rates of institutional births between rural and urban women in Ghana, ii) the extent to which existing disparities are due to differences in the distribution of the determinants of institutional delivery between rural and urban women, and iii) the extent to which existing disparities are due to discrimination in resource availability.
Methods: Using Demographic and Health Survey data from 2003, 2008, and 2014, this study decomposed inequalities in institutional delivery rates among urban and rural Ghanaian woman using the Oaxaca, the Blinder, and related decompositions for non-linear models. The determinants of the observed inequalities were also analyzed.
Results: Institutional delivery rates in urban areas exceeded those of rural areas by 32.4 percentage points due to differences in distribution of the determinants of institutional delivery between the two areas. The main determinants driving the observed disparities were wealth, which contributed to about 16.1% of the gap, followed by education level, and number of antenatal visits.
Conclusion: Relative to urban women, rural women have lower rates of institutional deliveries due primarily to lower levels of wealth, which results in financial barriers in accessing maternal health services. Economic empowerment of rural women is crucial in order to close the gap in institutional delivery between urban and rural women.
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