Effects of food price shocks on child malnutrition: The Mozambican experience 2008/2009

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HighlightsWe study the relationship between shifts in food prices and child nutrition status.We analyse malnutrition in different survey quarters with different inflation rates.Wasting and underweight are found to be lower when the food inflation rate is low.Stunting and height-for-age Z-scores are insignificantly different across quarters.The 2007–2009 food price crisis negatively affected malnutrition in Mozambique.A propitiously timed household survey carried out in Mozambique over the period 2008/2009 permits us to study the relationship between shifts in food prices and child nutrition status in a low income setting. We focus on weight-for-height and weight-for-age in different survey quarters characterized by very different food price inflation rates. Using propensity score matching techniques, we find that these nutrition measures, which are sensitive in the short run, improve significantly in the fourth quarter of the survey, when the inflation rate for basic food products is low, compared to the first semester or three quarters, when food price inflation was generally high. The prevalence of underweight, in particular, falls by about 40 percent. We conclude that the best available evidence points to food penury, driven by the food and fuel price crisis combined with a short agricultural production year, as substantially increasing malnutrition amongst under-five children in Mozambique.

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