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On the Use and Misuse of Child Height-for-Age Z-score in the Demographic and Health Surveys

Joseph Cummins

No 201417, Working Papers from University of California at Riverside, Department of Economics

Abstract: This paper addresses the problem of model misspecification bias when estimating cohort-level determinants of child height-for-age z-score (HAZ) using data from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). I show that the combination of DHS survey design and the biological realities of child health in developing countries create an artifact that can strongly bias regression estimates when identification relies on seasonal, annual or spatio-temporal variation associated with a subject's birth cohort. I formalize the econometric problem and show that flexible specifications of the HAZ-age profile can greatly mitigate the bias. When regression models can exploit within-cohort variation in the covariate of interest, appropriate fixed-effects models can effectively purge the bias. I also provide Monte Carlo evidence that DHS recommended inference strategies produce standard errors that are too small when estimating birth cohort determinants of HAZ.

Keywords: Demographic and Health Surveys; Height; Z-score; Child Health (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O15 C23 I15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 50 Pages
Date: 2013-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ecm and nep-hea
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (20) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link) First version, 2013 (application/pdf)

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