Nutritional status and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa, 1950-1980
Nutrition and health are important dimensions of human well-being. Both aspects are complementary to income and deserve attention in its own right. However, there is an interrelationship between economic development and nutritional status which this study aims to investigate. We use a population`s mean height as an indicator of nutritional intake net of claims due to diseases. Based on more than 200,000 women from 28 sub-Saharan African countries, we find that nutritional status was in a good state in the 1960s. However, stagnating and decreasing mean heights indicate a poor development. In fact, the entire Southwest and Southeast of the African continent went to a nutritional crisis. In a regression analysis, we model the entire span of bodily growth and find a significant and very robust influence of economic growth on final adult height at two distinct periods: during the first years of life and puberty. We also take into account the possible endogeneity of economic development due to increased productivity, but do not find evidence of endogeneity. National food supply in form of high quality proteins and the disease environment are other important determinants of nutritional status.
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