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Up in Smoke: Tobacco Use, Expenditure on Food, and Child Malnutrition in Developing Countries

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  • Steven Block
  • Patrick Webb

Abstract

This paper explores the impact of expenditure on smoking products in low-income households on child nutrition, as mediated via reduced food expenditure. On the basis of data from a large household survey in rural Indonesia, the study finds that low-income households containing at least one smoker tend to divert a significant amount of scarce income to tobacco products and that relatively more of the diversion is drawn from food than from nonfood purchases. This results in a real decline in the quantity and quality of food consumed in the poorest households, which is associated with a statistically significant reduction in the nutritional status of children in those households. In other words, parental smoking increases child malnutrition via its displacement effect on food consumption-an intuitive but rarely documented empirical finding. Attention is needed to finding appropriate mechanisms for enhancing food and nutrition in poorest households in tandem with investments in public health information systems that highlight these indirect, as well as direct, links between smoking and child well-being. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Block & Patrick Webb, 2009. "Up in Smoke: Tobacco Use, Expenditure on Food, and Child Malnutrition in Developing Countries," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(1), pages 1-23, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:v:58:y:2009:i:1:p:1-23
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. World Bank, 2006. "Making the New Indonesia Work for the Poor," World Bank Other Operational Studies 8172, The World Bank.
    2. Jha, Prabhat & Chaloupka, Frank (ed.), 2000. "Tobacco Control in Developing Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780192632463.
    3. Steven Block, 2004. "Maternal Nutrition Knowledge and the Demand for Micronutrient-Rich Foods: Evidence from Indonesia," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(6), pages 82-105.
    4. Susan H. Busch & Mireia Jofre-Bonet & Tracy A. Falba & Jody L. Sindelar, 2004. "Tobacco Spending and its Crowd-Out of Other Goods," NBER Working Papers 10974, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Wang, Hong & Sindelar, Jody L. & Busch, Susan H., 2006. "The impact of tobacco expenditure on household consumption patterns in rural China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(6), pages 1414-1426, March.
    6. John, Rijo M., 2008. "Crowding out effect of tobacco expenditure and its implications on household resource allocation in India," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(6), pages 1356-1367, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maitra, Pushkar & Rammohan, Anu & Ray, Ranjan & Robitaille, Marie-Claire, 2013. "Food consumption patterns and malnourished Indian children: Is there a link?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 70-81.

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