The fate of Zimbabwe's children: Insights from changes in nutrition outcomes, 1999-2006
The economic situation in Zimbabwe deteriorated significantly between 2000 and 2009. However, little empirical effort has been directed towards analysing changes in outcomes at micro levels during this challenging period. This paper therefore investigates changes in welfare during this period, with specific reference to child health outcomes. In addition to using height and weight for age as proxies for welfare, the analysis further overcomes the absence of consumption data expenditure by using a food variety score to proxy for access to food and an asset index based on principal component analysis to provide an alternative for economic ranking. Results from a comparative analysis of the 1999 and 2005/6 DHS data show that average height and weight for age z-scores for children aged 5 years or under worsened by 19% and 16% respectively while food consumption declined by 34%. These declines were across the entire wealth distribution but were more pronounced among children in middle quartile and the poorest households, but least for the rich. Multivariate regressions of height and weight for age show that a large part of their decline between 1999 and 2005/06 is explained by the deterioration in access to food over this period. Oaxaca-Blinder decompositions show that deterioration in access to food explains half the overall decline in mean height for age.
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