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Growing taller among toilets: Evidence from changes in sanitation and child height in Cambodia, 2005-2010 « Working Papers « Downloads

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Date postedJune 30, 2013
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CategoriesWorking Papers, Health , Topic, Sanitation

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Child height is an important indicator of human capital and human development,
in large part because early life health and net nutrition shape both height and adult
economic productivity and health. Recent medical evidence suggests that exposure to
poor sanitation { and speci cally to widespread open defecation { can pose a critical
threat to child growth. Cambodia saw a signi cant decline in open defecation and
increase in child height between its 2005 and 2010 Demographic and Health Surveys.
This paper identi es an e ect of open defecation on child height from within-province
changes in the local area open defecation to which children are exposed. In particular,
it is local open defecation that matters most for child height, underscoring the negative
externalities that make reducing open defecation a policy priority where it is common.
Our estimate is quantitatively robust, and corroborated by model averaging techniques.
Decomposition analysis, in the spirit of Blinder-Oaxaca, further suggests that reduction
in children’s exposure to open defecation can statistically account for much or all of
the increase in average child height between 2005 and 2010.
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