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Child nutrition in Mozambique in 2003: the role of mother's schooling and nutrition knowledge
Authors: Burchi F.
Source: Economics and Human Biology, Dec;8(3):331-45. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2010.05.010. Epub 2010 Jun 1.
Topic(s): Child health
Country: Africa
Published: DEC 2010
Abstract: This paper is a study of the determinants of the anthropometric status of preschool children in Mozambique. Using the 2003 Demographic and Health Survey, we provide insights into two main explanatory factors: the mother's schooling and the mother's nutrition knowledge. Rather than treating the mother's schooling as a black box, we analyze its interaction with the mother's nutrition knowledge and household wealth in order to elucidate the mechanisms underlying their ultimate effect on child height. The estimates obtained through instrumental variable regression show that the direct effect of the mother's schooling is large but that the rate at which it increases declines as her educational level rises. Primary education seems to be a key to enhance the mothers' general knowledge, which then improves the allocation of resources in regard to children's well-being and the care for the child. A higher educational level attained by the mother is likely to play only a minimal and indirect role in her child's nutrition, by expanding her economic opportunities. This is because more educated mothers have also more qualified and time-consuming jobs, which reduces the time spent for childcare. Mothers with higher levels of nutrition knowledge, acquired primarily outside of school, are able to choose a more diversified diet for their children and, broadly speaking, to utilize food more effectively. Based on a second technique, the instrumental variable quantile regression, we are able to draw a double conclusion: that mothers' nutrition knowledge contributes to height increases among extremely deprived children, and that mothers' formal education and household wealth are slightly more important for relatively well-off children