The Impact of Macroeconomic Policies and Trade on Food and Nutrition Security and Child Health : Cross-Country Analyses

This study assesses the impact of trade policy on child malnutrition. Globally, interest in nutrition has increased significantly and investing in nutrition is seen as a key development priority to benefit global welfare. The empirical analysis is based on the widely accepted UNICEF (1990) conceptual framework for the causes of child malnutrition. The results reveal that trade openness works to reduce both child stunting and underweight significantly. Taking a closer look at household food security, one of the most important underlying determinants of child’s nutritional status, we find that, besides national food availability, food access as well as dietary diversity and diet-quality related aspects of food security play a role for child’s nutritional status. In the second part we identify the key determinants of food security, including the agricultural and economic development, as well as the impact of trade. The results reveal, inter alia, that trade openness and economic growth exert positive and significant impacts on dietary energy consumption. Additional results indicate that besides calorie consumption trade openness also improves dietary diversity and diet quality-related aspects of food security. The last part focuses on child health, which is an important determinant of child’s nutritional status. While much is known about the positive effects of specific behaviors such as care taking and breastfeeding and direct interventions such as vaccination campaigns, much less is known about the indirect effects of specific national-level policies on child health and empirical evidence on the issue is scarce. This study assesses the impact of trade on child health, based on heterogeneous panel cointegration and finds that trade works to reduce the under-five mortality rate significantly in the long-run. Additional analyses suggest that the trade-child health relationship tends to be stronger in countries with a favorable policy and institutional environment.


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