Undernutrition, subsequent risk of mortality and civil war in Burundi
The paper investigates the effect of child undernutrition on the risk of mortality in Burundi. Using anthropometric data from a longitudinal survey (1998–2007) we find that undernourished children, measured by the height-for-age z-scores (HAZ) in 1998 had a higher probability to die during subsequent years. In order to address the problem of omitted variables correlated with both nutritional status and the risk of mortality, we use the length of exposure to civil war prior to 1998 as a source of exogenous variation in a child's nutritional status. Children exposed to civil war in their area of residence have worse nutritional status. The results indicate that one year of exposure translates into a 0.15 decrease in the HAZ, resulting in a 10% increase in the probability to die. For boys, we find a 0.34 decrease in HAZ per year of exposure, resulting in 25% increase in the probability to die. For girls, the results are statistically not significant at the usual thresholds. We show the robustness of our results and we derive policy conclusion for a nutrition intervention in times of conflict.
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