Mother’s Relative Educational Status and Early Childhood Height-for-Age z Scores: A Decomposition of Change Over Time

  • Julia A. BehrmanEmail author
Original Research


This paper explores the association between changes in mother’s relative educational status and changes in early childhood nutrition focusing on the case of Malawi and the sizable improvements in early childhood height-for-age z scores (HAZ) that occurred between 2000 and 2015. Using Demographic Health Survey data, the paper shows that there were changes in the composition of mothers with higher relative educational status in the population, and also changes in returns to mother’s higher relative educational status between 2000 and 2015. A Blinder–Oaxaca decomposition suggests that improved returns to mother’s higher relative educational status were associated with playing an important role in improvements in early childhood HAZ between 2000 and 2015, although compositional changes in mothers with higher relative education appear to be less important. Supplementary descriptive analyses suggest these results might have to do with changes in selection into non-hypergamous unions over time.


Schooling Bargaining power Families Height-for-age Stunting Africa 



I am grateful to Jere Behrman, Siwei Cheng, Paula England, Mike Hout, Luca Pesando, Florencia Torche, Abigail Weitzman, and Larry Wu for helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty Fellow Institute for Policy ResearchNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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