The International Wealth Index and stunting in sub-Saharan Africa

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Existing empirical evidence does not show a unanimous, negative relationship between an increase in absolute income and child’s stunting and suggests that this depends on the socio-economic circumstances of the household. Due to inequalities, an increase in income does not always reach the poorest people in society, this indicates that relative measures of wealth might be more important for decreasing stunting rates. I study the relationship between the International Wealth Index (IWI), which is a measure of relative socio-economic status, and the stunting rate in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) while taking into account the household characteristics. The results indicate that the effect of the IWI varies, but is almost always negatively related to the average stunting rate. Besides the asset index, maternal education, the presence of grandparents and the mean age difference between husband and wife are other important determinants for stunting outcomes. My findings indicate that promoting the possession of several consumer durable goods should be taken into account when designing policies that are aimed at improving the health status of children in sub-Saharan Africa. Keywords: stunting, international wealth index, sub-Saharan Africa, household characteristics, socio-economics status
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