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Economic Growth and Child Malnutrition in Egypt: New Evidence from National Demographic and Health Survey

Abstract

Economic growth is widely considered an effective instrument to combat poverty, and child malnutrition. Though there is a substantial literature on the relationship between economic growth and child malnutrition in a wide range of countries, empirical evidence on this relationship is sparse in the case of Egypt. Using repeated crosssectional data from five rounds of the National Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), we examine the association between income per-capita growth, at the governorate level, and various child malnutrition outcomes: stunting, wasting, and underweight, in Egypt during the period 1992–2008. A logistic regression model, with regional and time fixed effects applied to pooled data of the five DHS rounds, is used. The analyses control for the structure of the data, and the clustering of observations (children nested within households within clusters nested in governorates). Statistics show that 29% of the children-under-5 years were stunted, 7.2% were wasted, and 6% were underweight in 2008. We found a robust statistically significant negative association between economic growth, at the governorate level, and four indicators of child malnutrition, namely; underweight, wasting, extreme wasting, and extreme stunting. Though a negative association was also found between economic growth and stunting and extreme underweight, the odd ratios were not statistically significant but were well below unity which indicates economic significance if estimated precisely. No significant association was found between income inequality, as measured by the Gini-index, and any of the malnutrition indicators. Results also reveal that child and household-level characteristics including; child age, sex, the birth interval of a child, whether the child is a twin and father`s education, are particularly important determinants of malnutrition indicators in Egypt. The findings of the current study provide additional supportive evidence, using data from Egypt, that economic growth is an effective instrument to combat child malnutrition and improve population health outcomes.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers, and the academic editor of this journal for the invaluable comments and suggestions that substantially improved the manuscript. We would also like to thank Stephan Klasen, Jurgen Maurer, Samer Atallah, and Doaa Omran for useful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ahmed Shoukry Rashad.

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Rashad, A.S., Sharaf, M.F. Economic Growth and Child Malnutrition in Egypt: New Evidence from National Demographic and Health Survey. Soc Indic Res 135, 769–795 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-016-1515-y

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Keywords

  • Economic growth
  • Inequality
  • Malnutrition
  • Stunting
  • Wasting
  • Underweight
  • Egypt