Impact of Macro-Level Economic Improvement on Child Health: Childhood Malnutrition in Ghana, 1988-2003

Jemima A. Frimpong, University of Pennsylvania
Roland Pongou, Brown University

Our study examines the impact of macroeconomic changes on childhood malnutrition in Ghana during the period 1988-2003, and attempts to identify the intermediate socioeconomic factors that mediated this impact. Ghana experienced economic growth since the mid 1980s, but witnessed a short-term shock in 1997. We use Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) to examine the health effects of these economic changes. Weight-for-age malnutrition among children aged 3-36 months declined from 30% in 1988 to 25% in 1998, and to 24% in 2003. Height-for-age malnutrition declined from 29% in 1988 to 21% in 1998, but increased to 27% in 2003. Improvements in household economic status, access to primary health care, and parental education were associated with better nutritional status and explained the decline in malnutrition during economic upturns. Our analysis also suggests that increase in stunting between 1998 and 2003 may result from declining health care utilization following the 1997 economic shock.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Health, Mortality, Aging, Biology