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Stunting and the density of OD, worldwide

Maps1 min read

Creating a measure of ‘open defecators per square kilometer’ at the country level, this graph plots 140 country years, with each circle representing one round of a country’s Demographic and Health Survey for a single year, and the size of the circle proportional to the country's population in that year.

Child height is strongly correlated with the average number of people per square kilometer in a country who practice open defecation. This correlation is even stronger than the association between child height and exposure to open defecation alone.

The India circles here occupy the bottom right corner of the graph. Stunting among Indian children is no surprise: they face a double threat of widespread open defecation and high population density.


r.i.c.e. is a non-profit research organization focused on health and well-being in India. Our core focus is on children in rural north India. Our research studies health care at the start of life, sanitation, air pollution, maternal health, social inequality, and other dimensions of population-level social wellbeing.

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