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How Much International Variation in Child Height Can Sanitation Explain?

ADEQUATE NUTRITION AGE GROUPS BABIES BIRTH WEIGHT BREASTFEEDING BULLETIN CHILD GROWTH CHILD HEALTH CHILD MALNUTRITION CHILD MORTALITY CHILD STUNTING CHILD WELFARE CHILDBEARING CHILDRENS HEALTH CHOLERA CHRONIC DISEASE COMPLICATIONS DEFECATION DEMOCRACY DEVELOPING COUNTRIES DEVELOPMENT POLICY DIARRHEA DIARRHOEA DISCRIMINATION DISPARITIES IN LIFE EXPECTANCY DRINKING WATER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ECONOMIC GROWTH ECONOMIC POLICIES ECONOMIC PRODUCTIVITY ECONOMIC STATUS FAMILIES FAMILY HEALTH FAMILY MEMBERS FEMALE LITERACY FIRST BIRTH FLUSH TOILETS HEALTH EFFECTS HEALTH OUTCOMES HEALTH SURVEYS HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT HOUSEHOLD ASSETS HOUSEHOLD LEVEL HOUSEHOLD SIZE HOUSEHOLD SURVEYS HUMAN BIOLOGY HUMAN CAPITAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT HUMAN WELFARE INFANT INFANT MORTALITY INFANT MORTALITY RATE INFANT NUTRITION INFANTS INFECTION INFECTIONS INFECTIOUS DISEASES INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF EPIDEMIOLOGY INTERVENTION LABOR MARKET LABOR MARKETS LATRINES LIFE EXPECTANCY MALNUTRITION MATERNAL NUTRITION MEDICAL RESEARCH MEDICINE MOTHER MULTIPLE BIRTH NUMBER OF PEOPLE NUTRITION NUTRITIONAL STATUS OLDER CHILDREN ORAL REHYDRATION PAINS PATHOGENS PERINATAL MORTALITY PHYSICAL GROWTH POLICY DISCUSSIONS POLICY RESEARCH POLICY RESEARCH WORKING PAPER POLICY RESPONSE POOR HEALTH POPULATION DENSITY PREGNANCY PREGNANT WOMEN PREVALENCE PROGRESS PUBLIC HEALTH RADIO RICHER PEOPLE RURAL AREAS RURAL WOMEN SANITARY CONDITIONS SANITATION SECONDARY SCHOOL SEX SOCIAL SCIENCE SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS STUNTING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TABOO TREATMENT TV UNDERNUTRITION URBAN WOMEN WEIGHT GAIN WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION YOUNG CHILDREN YOUTH
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World Bank, Washington, DC
Africa | South Asia
2013-04-11T19:54:05Z | 2013-04-11T19:54:05Z | 2013-01

Physical height is an important economic variable reflecting health and human capital. Puzzlingly, however, differences in average height across developing countries are not well explained by differences in wealth. In particular, children in India are shorter, on average, than children in Africa who are poorer, on average, a paradox called "the Asian enigma" which has received much attention from economists. This paper provides the first documentation of a quantitatively important gradient between child height and sanitation that can statistically explain a large fraction of international height differences. This association between sanitation and human capital is robustly stable, even after accounting for other heterogeneity, such as in GDP. The author applies three complementary empirical strategies to identify the association between sanitation and child height: country-level regressions across 140 country-years in 65 developing countries; within-country analysis of differences over time within Indian districts; and econometric decomposition of the India-Africa height differences in child-level data. Open defecation, which is exceptionally widespread in India, can account for much or all of the excess stunting in India.

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