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Poverty, Undernutrition, and Child Mortality: Some Inter-Regional Puzzles and their Implications for Research and Policy

  • Klasen, Stephan


    (University of Göttingen)

This paper examines the relationship between measures of income poverty, undernourishment, childhood undernutrition, and child mortality in developing countries. While there is, as expected, a close aggregate correlation between these measures of deprivation, the measures generate some inter-regional paradoxes. Income poverty and child mortality is highest in Africa, but childhood undernutrition is by far the highest in South Asia, while the share of people with insufficient calories (undernourishment) is highest in the Caribbean. The paper finds that standard explanations cannot account for these inter-regional paradoxes, particularly the ones related to undernourishment and childhood undernutrition. The paper suggests that measurement issues related to the way undernourishment and childhood undernutrition is measured might play a significant role in affecting these inter-regional puzzles and points to implications for research and policy.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2509.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Economic Inequality, 2008, 6(1), 89-115
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2509
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  1. Haddad, Lawrence James & Alderman, Harold & Appleton, Simon & Song, Lina & Yohannes, Yisehac, 2002. "Reducing child undernutrition," FCND briefs 137, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Svedberg, Peter, 1999. "841 Million Undernourished?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(12), pages 2081-2098, December.
  3. Klasen, Stephan, 2000. "Measuring Poverty and Deprivation in South Africa," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(1), pages 33-58, March.
  4. Mark McGillivray, 2005. "Measuring Non-Economic Well-Being Achievement ," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(2), pages 337-364, 06.
  5. Smith, Lisa C. & Ramakrishnan, Usha & Ndiaye, Aida & Haddad, Lawrence James & Martorell, Reynaldo, 2003. "The importance of women's status for child nutrition in developing countries:," Research reports 131, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  6. Adams, Richard Jr., 2004. "Economic Growth, Inequality and Poverty: Estimating the Growth Elasticity of Poverty," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(12), pages 1989-2014, December.
  7. Misselhorn, Mark & Klasen, Stephan, 2006. "Determinants of the Growth Semi-Elasticity of Poverty Reduction," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2006 15, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  8. Smith, Lisa C & Haddad, Lawrence, 2002. "How Potent Is Economic Growth in Reducing Undernutrition? What Are the Pathways of Impact? New Cross-Country Evidence," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(1), pages 55-76, October.
  9. Lipton, Michael & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Poverty and policy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1130, The World Bank.
  10. Kenneth Harttgen & Mark Misselhorn, 2006. "A Multilevel Approach to Explain Child Mortality and Undernutrition in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 152, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
  11. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1992. "Growth and redistribution components of changes in poverty measures : A decomposition with applications to Brazil and India in the 1980s," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 275-295, April.
  12. Sudhir Anand & Martin Ravallion, 1993. "Human Development in Poor Countries: On the Role of Private Incomes and Public Services," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 133-150, Winter.
  13. Osmani, Siddiq & Sen, Amartya, 2003. "The hidden penalties of gender inequality: fetal origins of ill-health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 105-121, January.
  14. Guilkey, David K. & Riphahn, Regina T., 1998. "The determinants of child mortality in the Philippines: estimation of a structural model," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 281-305, August.
  15. Sen, Amartya, 1988. "The concept of development," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 9-26 Elsevier.
  16. Svedberg, Peter, 2002. "Undernutrition Overestimated," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(1), pages 5-36, October.
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