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Abstract

Poor child health and nutrition persist throughout West Africa. This research analyzes the impact of key economic variables, including income, education and background characteristics, on child health and nutrition across nine different countries. The results are interpreted in the context of differing levels of economic development among these nations. The findings do not show wealth and parental education to be robust across the sample, but maternal background characteristics have a positive, statistically significant and highly consistent effect across all the countries. The importance of mothers' height does not simply represent a genetic influence, but can be interpreted to signify that women who have had a healthier upbringing and hence are taller, have healthier children, ceteris paribus. This finding is consistent with long-run observations that increases in health (and height) coincide with economic development.

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