Is There Catch-Up Growth? Evidence from Three Continents

Sudhanshu Handa, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Amber Peterman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Shadi Eskaf, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This paper investigates whether nutritional status at early ages affects nutritional status at later ages among children using panel data from China, South Africa and Nicaragua. The key research question is whether children display ‘catch-up’ growth: do children who are malnourished at young ages have any chance of recuperating their health status as they grow older? And if they do, what are the key family and community level factors that enable catch-up growth to occur? The answer to this question is crucial for public policy. If catch-up growth is not possible, policy efforts must focus on early interventions that prevent malnutrition. If catch-up growth is possible, efforts can also be devoted to ‘recovering’ children who are already malnourished. In this case, it is important to know the factors at the household and community level that enable or inhibit growth.

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Presented in Session 168: Determinants of Child Health in Developing Countries