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Abstract

Despite recent improvements in economic performance, undernutrition rates in Africa appear to have improved much less and rather inconsistently across the continent. We examine to what extent there is an empirical linkage between income growth and reductions of child undernutrition in Africa. We do this by pooling all DHS surveys for African countries, control for other correlates of undernutrition, and add country-level GDP per capita. We find that increases in GDP per capita are associated with lower individual probabilities of being underweight of about 2.5 percent per one hundred dollars. This association becomes insignificant when time fixed effects are added to the regression. Other explanatory variables such as mother’s education, socioeconomic status, and poor mother’s nutritional status are quantitatively more important than economic growth suggesting that other intervention to affect these correlates of undernutrition are likely to be more promising than relying on improved economic conditions.

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