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Economic Growth and Child Undernutrition in Africa

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  • Harttgen, Kenneth
  • Klasen, Stephan
  • Vollmer, Sebastian

Abstract

Despite recent improvements in economic performance, undernutrition rates in Africa appear to have improved much less and rather inconsistently across the continent. We examine to what extent there is an empirical linkage between income growth and reductions of child undernutrition in Africa. We do this by pooling all DHS surveys for African countries, control for other correlates of undernutrition, and add country-level GDP per capita. We find that increases in GDP per capita are associated with lower individual probabilities of being underweight of about 2.5 percent per one hundred dollars. This association becomes insignificant when time fixed effects are added to the regression. Other explanatory variables such as mother’s education, socioeconomic status, and poor mother’s nutritional status are quantitatively more important than economic growth suggesting that other intervention to affect these correlates of undernutrition are likely to be more promising than relying on improved economic conditions.

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Paper provided by Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development in its series Discussion Papers with number 130164.

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Date of creation: Jul 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ags:gagfdp:130164

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Keywords: economic growth; child undernutrition; Africa; economic development; wasting; stunting; underweight; Food Security and Poverty; International Development; I15; O10;

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  1. Klasen, Stephan, 2007. "Poverty, Undernutrition, and Child Mortality: Some Inter-Regional Puzzles and their Implications for Research and Policy," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Göttingen 2007 17, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
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  9. Jonathan Morduch, 1995. "Income Smoothing and Consumption Smoothing," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 103-114, Summer.
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  11. Alessandro Tarozzi & Aprajit Mahajan, 2005. "Child Nutrition in India in the Nineties: A Story of Increased Gender Inequality?," Discussion Papers 04-029, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  12. Misselhorn, Mark & Harttgen, Kenneth, 2006. "A Multilevel Approach to Explain Child Mortality and Undernutrition in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2006 20, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
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  14. Kenneth Harttgen & Sebastian Vollmer, 2011. "Inequality Decomposition without Income or Expenditure Data: Using an Asset Index to Simulate Household Income," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2011-13, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
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Cited by:
  1. Maria Carmela Lo Bue, 2014. "What drives child health improvements in Indonesian households? A micro-level perspective on complementarities in MDG achievements," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 155, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  2. Viridiana Garcia, 2012. "Children Malnutrition and Horizontal Inequalities in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Focus on Contrasting Domestic Trajectories," Working Papers 2012-019, United Nations Development Programme, Regional Bureau for Africa (UNDP/RBA).

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