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Age-Profile Estimates of the Relationship Between Economic Growth and Child Health

Joseph Cummins and Anaka Aiyar

No 201812, Working Papers from University of California at Riverside, Department of Economics

Abstract: Based largely on the analysis of the same underlying data, recently published papers have presented estimates that the association between economic growth and child undernutrition in developing countries is either strong and robust, or weak to nonexistent. We provide clarity on both the magnitude of the association and the underlying econometric problem. Focusing on child growth faltering as a process that unfolds over the first several years of life, we provide new evidence tracing out the relationship between macroeconomic trends and the trajectory of child growth through age 5. Using two novel regression models that each harness different kinds of within- and between-country variation, and data on over 600,000 children from 38 countries over more than 20 years, our estimates of the association are small but precise, and are consistent across both estimators. We estimate that a $10\%$ increase in GDP around the time of a child's birth is associated with a decrease in the rate of loss of HAZ of about 0.002sd per month over the first two years of life. This generates a cumulative effect of around 0.04sd by a child's third birthday and the magnitude of the correlation largely persists through age 5. Our models are derived from both economic and biological theory and provide a new empirical framework for researchers interested in investigating the ecological-level determinants of child growth.

Keywords: anthropometrics; child health; economic growth (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I15 J13 O15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 45 Pages
Date: 2017-10, Revised 2018-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dev and nep-hea
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https://economics.ucr.edu/repec/ucr/wpaper/201812.pdf First version, 2017 (application/pdf)
https://economics.ucr.edu/repec/ucr/wpaper/201812R.pdf Revised version, 2018 (application/pdf)

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Working Paper: Age-Profile Estimates of the Relationship Between Economic Growth and Child Health (2017) Downloads
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