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The Effect of Economic Crises on Nutritional Status: Evidence from Russia

  • Stillman, Steven


    (University of Otago)

  • Thomas, Duncan


    (Duke University)

This paper uses data from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS) to examine the relationship between nutritional status and both longer-run household resources and short-run fluctuations in household resources. We evaluate six measures of nutrition – gross energy intake, two dimensions of diet quality, body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of net energy intake for adults, and for children, weight for height and stature. Our finding indicate a clear positive effect of longer-run resources on energy intake, diet composition, adult BMI, and child stature. Between 1996 and 2000, Russian households experienced a dramatic decline in income and expenditure and then an equally dramatic rise. We exploit the panel nature of RLMS to identify the causal effect of changes in household resources on nutritional status. In contrast to the large decline in expenditure in 1998, nutritional status appears to be very resilient to variation in household resources and this is reflected in gross energy intake, adult BMI, and child stature, which all change very little as expenditure deviates from its long-run average. Diet composition, however, does change in response to transitory variation in household resources. It appears that individuals and households are able to weather large economic crises at least in terms of maintaining body mass and energy intake.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1092.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Journal, 2008, 118 (531), 1385–1417
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1092
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  1. Robert W. Fogel, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," NBER Working Papers 4638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  5. Glenn R. Hubbard & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 03-95, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
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  8. Cornia, Giovanni Andrea, 1994. "Poverty, Food Consumption, and Nutrition during the Transition to the Market Economy in Eastern Europe," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 297-302, May.
  9. Paxson, Christina H, 1992. "Using Weather Variability to Estimate the Response of Savings to Transitory Income in Thailand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 15-33, March.
  10. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Cochrane, John H, 1991. "A Simple Test of Consumption Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 957-76, October.
  13. Stillman, Steven, 2001. "The Response of Consumption in Russian Households to Economic Shocks," IZA Discussion Papers 411, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Gersovitz, Mark, 1983. "Savings and Nutrition at Low Incomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(5), pages 841-55, October.
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