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Measuring catch-up growth in malnourished populations

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  • Kalle Hirvonen

    () (Department of Economics, University of Sussex)

Abstract

Chronic malnutrition during early childhood hinders growth and causes children to fall into a lower growth trajectory. In order to recover, children need to experience growth rates that are above the expected rate for their age. Several studies have analysed the extent of such catch-up growth by regressing adult height on early childhood height. In this paper, I show that these studies confuse catch-up growth with within-population convergence and are further plagued by a well-known statistical fallacy of regression-to-the-mean. This calls for a re-evaluation of the existing evidence. In the empirical part of the paper, I use data from the Philippines and the Kagera region in Tanzania to study catch-up growth. I find limited recovery in the Philippines cohort. In Kagera, almost 75 per cent of the children experience catch-up growth. The mean height-for-age z-score improves from -1.87 in early childhood to -1.20 by adulthood. Graphical analysis reveals that this catch-up growth takes place in puberty.

Suggested Citation

  • Kalle Hirvonen, 2013. "Measuring catch-up growth in malnourished populations," Working Paper Series 5913, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
  • Handle: RePEc:sus:susewp:5913
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    File URL: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/economics/documents/wps-59-2013.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Harold Alderman & John Hoddinott & Bill Kinsey, 2006. "Long term consequences of early childhood malnutrition," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(3), pages 450-474, July.
    2. Rouanet, Léa, 2011. "The Double African Paradox: What does selective mortality tell us?," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 71, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    3. Haddad, Lawrence J & Bouis, Howarth E, 1991. "The Impact of Nutritional Status on Agricultural Productivity: Wage Evidence from the Philippines," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 53(1), pages 45-68, February.
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    5. Outes, Ingo & Porter, Catherine, 2013. "Catching up from early nutritional deficits? Evidence from rural Ethiopia," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 148-163.
    6. Alexander Moradi, 2010. "Selective Mortality or Growth after Childhood? What Really is Key to Understand the Puzzlingly Tall Adult Heights in Sub-Saharan Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2010-17, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
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    11. Richard Akresh & Sonia Bhalotra & Marinella Leone & Una Okonkwo Osili, 2012. "War and Stature: Growing Up during the Nigerian Civil War," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 273-277, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. De Cao, Elisabetta, 2014. "The height production function from birth to maturity," Research Report 14018-EEF, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    2. Laura B. Nolan, 2016. "Rural–Urban Child Height for Age Trajectories and Their Heterogeneous Determinants in Four Developing Countries," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 35(5), pages 599-629, October.
    3. Otterbach, Steffen & Rogan, Michael, 2017. "Spatial Differences in Stunting and Household Agricultural Production in South Africa: (Re-)Examining the Links Using National Panel Survey Data," IZA Discussion Papers 11008, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Cabrera Hernández, Francisco-Javier, 2016. "Essays on the impact evaluation of education policies in Mexico," Economics PhD Theses 0316, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    5. José Cañabate-Cabezuelos & José M. Martínez-Carrión, 2016. "Poverty and rural height penalty in inland Spain during the nutrition transition," Documentos de Trabajo de la Sociedad Española de Historia Agraria 1604, Sociedad Española de Historia Agraria.
    6. José Miguel Martínez-Carrión, 2016. "El bienestar biológico de los españoles durante la Restauración: un análisis provincial," Documentos de Trabajo de la Sociedad Española de Historia Agraria 1601, Sociedad Española de Historia Agraria.
    7. repec:oup:wbecrv:v:31:y:2017:i:3:p:767-785. is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Sudhanshu Handa & Amber Peterman, 2016. "Is There Catch-Up Growth? Evidence from Three Continents," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 78(4), pages 470-500, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    height; undernutrition; catch-up growth; children; African height puzzle;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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