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Effects of Nutrition Promotion on Child Growth in El Alto, Bolivia: Results from a Geographical Discontinuity Design

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  • Sebastian Martinez
  • Gaston Gertner
  • Julia Johannsen

Abstract

Interventions that offer growth monitoring and nutrition counseling services to fam­ ilies with young children are one of the cornerstones of nutrition policy in developing countries. By raising caregivers’ awareness and encouraging recommended feeding, health, and hygiene practices, these programs seek to improve children’s growth, measured in terms of height and weight. We explore the effects of one such intervention that conducted home visits and com­ munity meetings with mothers of children under two years old in El Alto, a city of high poverty concentration in Bolivia. Project eligibility was limited to just over 400 households residing within a strictly de ned geographical area. We exploit the resulting geographical discontinuity to identify impacts. Three years after the project started, we nd that caregivers in the inter­ vention area show substantial gains in health­ and nutrition­related knowledge (0.327s ) and practices (0.273s ) relative to their peers just outside the project boundary. We nd no detectable impacts on children’s height, but observe a signi cant increase in the prevalence of overweight children. For contexts such as El Alto, with high prevalence of stunting and increasing risk of overweight in the same population, these results suggest that nutrition promotion interventions should reassess both content and behavioral change strategies to reduce stunting while concur­ rently preventing excess weight gain in children.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Martinez & Gaston Gertner & Julia Johannsen, 2016. "Effects of Nutrition Promotion on Child Growth in El Alto, Bolivia: Results from a Geographical Discontinuity Design," Economía Journal, The Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association - LACEA, vol. 0(Fall 2016), pages 131-165, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000425:015159
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    Keywords

    nutrition promotion; growth monitoring; regression discontinuity; Bolivia;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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