Income and child nutritional status in China in the 1990s: three essays Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Bredenkamp, Caryn
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Public Policy
  • Exploiting the availability of panel data, the first paper examines the trends in child malnutrition in China, both across cohorts and within cohorts. Descriptive analyses and the results of pooled OLS and probit models provide evidence of a dramatic downward secular trend in underweight, stunting and wasting. While the aggregate picture is overwhelmingly positive, disaggregation of the data by subgroup reveals some disturbing trends: urban-rural, gender and provincial disparities in nutritional status have increased over time; gains appear to have slowed; and, in some provinces, the prevalence of stunting appears to be increasing. The second paper explores the robustness of the estimated effect of economic status on child nutritional status to alternative income and assets constructs. The internal and external performance of three income measures and eleven asset indices is examined. Then, a series of reduced-form child health demand models, in which these constructs enter the models as income/asset quintiles, is estimated. The analysis reveals that the choice of construct - income or assets - affects results. Further, it provides an indication of the potential direction of bias if one class of measures is chosen over another: income measures tend to produce smaller coefficients than asset measures, but coefficients are more likely to increase progressively, and significantly, with each successive quintile. The third paper explores the role of income as a determinant of child nutritional status in China, and examines how its effect has been mediated by the one-child policy and changes in the accessibility, cost and quality of healthcare. Pooled OLS and probit models produce large income coefficients. These coefficients shrink when the effects of policies are incorporated into the model, but remain significant. Being an only-child, having shorter traveling times to healthcare facilities and having access to better quality healthcare are all correlated with improved nutritional status. Once community fixed-effects are introduced, however, the effect of income and healthcare becomes insignificant. This pattern is reproduced in pooled OLS and fixed-effects models in which income is instrumented. In addition, it is shown that the one-child policy and healthcare variables are both gender-neutral and income-neutral in their effects on nutritional status.
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  • In Copyright
  • Akin, John S.
  • Open access

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