Media article

Dynamics of Wasting and Underweight in Ethiopian Children

In Ethiopia, 9.7 percent of rural and 28.7 percent of small-town children are wasted and underweight, and under nutrition is responsible for a large percentage of childhood deaths. We use two waves of panel data, from the 2012 and 2014 Ethiopia Socioeconomic Surveys, to assess the dynamics of
weight-for-height z-score, wasting, weight-for-age z-score, and underweight among children aged 6-59 months. Ordinary least squares (OLS) and fixed effects regression models are used to examine the associations of individual, household, and community factors with each outcome. The cross-sectional
results, which generally parallel previous findings, suggest that child’s sex, recent illnesses, household assets, and livestock ownership are correlated with nutritional status. However, many associations disappear after controlling for fixed effects; only recent illness and community access to a main road are consistently significant determinants of changes in nutrition status. Thus, changing factors traditionally identified as correlates of under nutrition may not be enough to improve children’s nutrition. Further panel analysis, conditional on baseline nutrition status, shows that drivers of
change are asymmetrical—a finding important for policy development.