Does Economic Growth Reduce Childhood Undernutrition in Ethiopia?

Type Journal Article - PloS one
Title Does Economic Growth Reduce Childhood Undernutrition in Ethiopia?
Volume 11
Issue 8
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016

Policy discussions and debates in the last couple of decades emphasized efficiency of development policies for translating economic growth to development. One of the key aspects in this regard in the developing world is achieving improved nutrition through economic development. Nonetheless, there is a dearth of literature that empirically verifies the association between economic growth and reduction of childhood undernutrition in low- and middle-income countries. Thus, the aim of the study is to assess the interplay between economic growth and reduction of childhood undernutrition in Ethiopia.


The study used pooled data of three rounds (2000, 2005 and 2010) from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) of Ethiopia. A multilevel mixed logistic regression model with robust standard errors was utilized in order to account for the hierarchical nature of the data. The dependent variables were stunting, underweight, and wasting in children in the household. The main independent variable was real per capita income (PCI) that was adjusted for purchasing power parity. This information was obtained from World Bank.


A total of 32,610 children were included in the pooled analysis. Overall, 11,296 (46.7%) [46.0%-47.3%], 8,197(33.8%) [33.2%-34.4%] and 3,175(13.1%) [12.7%-13.5%] were stunted, underweight, and wasted, respectively. We found a strong correlation between prevalence of early childhood undernutrition outcomes and real per capita income (PCI). The proportions of stunting (r = -0.1207, p<0.0001), wasting (r = -0.0338, p<0.0001) and underweight (r = -0.1035, p<0.0001) from the total children in the household were negatively correlated with the PCI. In the final model adjustment with all the covariates, economic growth substantially reduced stunting [β = -0.0016, SE = 0.00013, p<0.0001], underweight [β = -0.0014, SE = 0.0002, p<0.0001] and wasting [β = -0.0008, SE = 0.0002, p<0.0001] in Ethiopia over a decade.


Economic growth reduces child undernutrition in Ethiopia. This verifies the fact that the economic growth of the country accompanied with socio-economic development and improvement of the livelihood of the poor. Direct nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions could also be recommended in order to have an impact on the massive reduction of childhood undernutrition in the country.

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