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Misfortunes never come singly: Structural change, multiple shocks and child malnutrition in rural Senegal

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  • Lazzaroni, Sara
  • Wagner, Natascha

Abstract

This study considers the two most pronounced shocks Senegalese subsistence farmers struggle with, namely increasing purchase prices and droughts. We assess the relationship of these self-reported shocks with child health in a multi-shock approach to account for concomitance of adverse events from the natural, biological, economic and health sphere. We employ a unique farming household panel dataset containing information on children living in poor, rural households in eight regions of Senegal in 2009 and 2011 and account for structural changes occurring between survey periods due to the large scale, national Nutrition Enhancement Program. By zooming in to the micro level we demonstrate that Senegal as a Sahelian country, mainly reliant on subsistence agriculture, is very vulnerable to climate variability and international price developments: According to our conservative estimates, the occurrence of a drought explains 25% of the pooled weight-for-age standard deviation, income losses 31%. Our multi-shock analysis reveals that the shocks are perceived as more severe in 2011 with droughts explaining up to 44% of the standard deviation of child health, increased prices up to 21%. Yet, the concomitance of droughts and increased prices after the structural change, i.e. the Nutrition Enhancement Program, indicates that the health of children experiencing both shocks in 2011 has improved. We argue that these results are driven by the increase in rural household income as theoretically outlined in the agricultural household model. Thus, adequate policy responses to shocks do not only depend on the nature but also on the concomitance of hazardous events.

Suggested Citation

  • Lazzaroni, Sara & Wagner, Natascha, 2016. "Misfortunes never come singly: Structural change, multiple shocks and child malnutrition in rural Senegal," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 246-262.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:23:y:2016:i:c:p:246-262
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2016.10.006
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    Keywords

    (multiple) shocks; Weight-for-age Z-scores; Senegal;

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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