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The Distribution Of Child Nutritional Status Across Countries And Over Time

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Listed:
  • Priya Bhagowalia

    ()

  • Susan E. Chen

    ()

  • William A. Masters

    () (Department of Agricultural Economics, College of Agriculture, Purdue University)

Abstract

Malnutrition is manifested in various degrees of both underweight and overweight, with large differences and rapid changes in their prevalence and severity. This paper introduces a new approach to characterizing the distribution of a population’s nutritional status, to help analyze changes in that distribution over time and across countries. Our method draws on the poverty literature to construct Foster-Greer-Thorbecke measures for the incidence and severity of underand overweight, based on deviations in either direction from the median of a healthy population. We apply this median-based measure to the nutritional status of over 400,000 preschool children, as measured in 130 DHS surveys covering 53 countries over a period from 1986 to 2006. Unlike conventional threshold-based methods, the new approach counts changes in every child’s bodyweight. We find that this offers a more sensitive measure of differences across countries and changes over time, showing in particular that children’s bodyweights are closely linked to local agricultural output and gender equality as well as real GDP per capita.

Suggested Citation

  • Priya Bhagowalia & Susan E. Chen & William A. Masters, 2008. "The Distribution Of Child Nutritional Status Across Countries And Over Time," Working Papers 08-04, Purdue University, College of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:pae:wpaper:08-04
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paul Schultz, T., 2002. "Why Governments Should Invest More to Educate Girls," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 207-225, February.
    2. Behrman, Jere R & Deolalikar, Anil B, 1987. "Will Developing Country Nutrition Improve with Income? A Case Study for Rural South India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 492-507, June.
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    4. David (David Patrick) Madden, 2006. "Body Mass Index and the measurement of obesity," Working Papers 200627, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    5. David E. Sahn & David C. Stifel, 2002. "Robust Comparisons of Malnutrition in Developing Countries," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(3), pages 716-735.
    6. Anderson, Patricia M. & Butcher, Kristin F. & Levine, Phillip B., 2003. "Maternal employment and overweight children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 477-504, May.
    7. 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.
    8. Sahn, David E, 1988. "The Effect of Price and Income Changes on Food-Energy Intake in Sri Lanka," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 315-340, January.
    9. Fogel, Robert W, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 369-395, June.
    10. Smith, Lisa C. & Haddad, Lawrence James, 2000. "Explaining child malnutrition in developing countries: a cross-country analysis," Research reports 111, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    11. David Sahn, 2009. "Weights on the rise: where and for whom?," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 7(4), pages 351-370, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. G. Naline & Brinda Viswanathan, 2016. "Revisiting the Determinants of Child Anthropometric Indicators in India Using Seemingly Unrelated Regressions Model," Working Papers 2016-143, Madras School of Economics,Chennai,India.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Underweight; Overweight; Malnutrition; Poverty;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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