Identifying catch-up trajectories in child growth: new methods with evidence from young lives
Hai-Anh Dang () and
No 8353, Policy Research Working Paper Series from The World Bank
Definitions of catch-up growth in anthropometric outcomes among young children vary across studies. This paper distinguishes between catch-up in the mean of a group toward that of a healthy reference population versus catch-up within the group, associated with a narrowing of the outcome distribution. In contrast to conventional empirical approaches based on dynamic panel models, the paper shows how catch-up can be tested via a latent growth framework. Combined with a flexible estimator incorporating individual-specific intercepts and slopes, this enables between- and within-group forms of catch-up to be tested in a unified setting. The application of the proposed approach reveals significant differences in the nature, extent, and drivers of catch-up growth across the four Young Lives countries (Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam). In addition, the paper shows how conclusions about catch-up are sensitive to the way in which anthropometric outcomes are expressed.
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