Dynamics of Child Malnutrition in Rural and Small-Town Ethiopia
Improving the status of malnourished children, and preventing children from becoming malnourished, lies at the heart of several of the Sustainable Development Goals. While many cross-sectional studies examine correlates of stunting, they largely cannot identify drivers of change in stunting. We use two waves of panel data from Ethiopia and incrementally larger sets of fixed effects to control for time-variant observable characteristics and time-invariant unobservable characteristics. After controlling for these potential confounders, our analysis reveals that many factors that are associated with stunting in the cross-section do not impact stunting dynamics. We also estimate individual fixed-effects regressions, separately, according to baseline stunting status. We find evidence suggesting that while improved societal conditions drive many children out of a stunted state, certain exogenous factors may lead previously healthy children to become stunted. Overall, policymakers and practitioners would be wise to consult research utilising both cross-sectional and panel data analyses in order to more effectively target already stunted children as well as vulnerable children who may be at risk of becoming stunted.