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Is nutritional status associated with income growth? Evidence from Chinese adults

Yang Gao, Zhihao Zheng and Shida R. Henneberry

China Agricultural Economic Review, 2020, vol. 12, issue 3, 507-525

Abstract: Purpose - This study estimates the income elasticities of calorie, macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) and key micronutrients including cholesterol, vitamin A, vitamin C, sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc and insoluble fiber separately for urban and rural adults aged 18–60, using China Health and Nutrition Survey data set from 2004 to 2011. Design/methodology/approach - A semiparametric model, a two-way fixed-effects model and a quantile regression approach are employed to estimate nutrient–income elasticities. Findings - The income elasticities of calorie, protein, fat, cholesterol and calcium are in the range of 0.059–0.076, 0.059–0.076, 0.090–0.112, 0.134–0.230, 0.183–0.344 and 0.058–0.105, respectively. The income elasticity of each of the other nutrients is less than 0.1. The income elasticities of calorie and the majority of nutrients included are larger for rural residents than for urban residents and for low-income groups than for medium- and high-income groups. Overall, in spite of having a relatively small impact, income growth is shown to still have an impact on improving the nutritional status of Chinese adults. Originality/value - This study estimates nutrient–income elasticities separately for urban and rural adults, expanding the scope of the study regarding the impact of income on the nutritional status in China. Moreover, this study uses a pooled sample generated from the personal food consumption records covering foods consumed at home and away from home during 2004–2011, which is thus likely to more comprehensively reveal the causal relationship between income growth and changes in the nutritional status in China.

Keywords: Income elasticity; Nutrient intake; Chinese adults (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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