Does Inflation Kill? Food Price Inflation and Child Survival

Since the dawn of the new millennium, significant stride has been made in terms of reducing under-five mortality. While advances in medicine, such as vaccination, considerably reduced communicable diseases, many countries in African, Latin American and elsewhere in the less-developed world continue to grapple with food price hikes that cause hunger and food shortages. The impacts of such food price hikes during the critical periods of early life-the period between inception and the first 1,000 days after birth-on child survival has not been well understood. Using a uniquely constructed data from Ethiopia that combines the Demographic and Health Survey and high-frequency (monthly) food retail prices over 10 years period, we examine the impacts of in-utero exposure to food price inflation on child survival. Follow survival events since inception, we estimate the causal impacts of exposure to malnutrition during each month of early life. The results show that exposure to 10% increase in month-on-month staple food price inflation during in-utero increases childhood mortality by up to 0.03%. Our analysis also uncovers substantial heterogeneity in the effects of early life malnutrition on child mortality depending on specific month of exposure.

An Empirical Analysis of Health Shocks and Informal Risk Sharing Networks

This paper investigates informal risk sharing against health shocks in the presence of multiple risk sharing networks. We use a panel household survey data from rural Ethiopia that covers the period 1994--2004. We find that neither short-term nor long-term health shocks are insured through transfers from networks such as friends, neighbors, and members of informal associations. However, networks related along bloodline such as extended family members provide assistance when health shocks are long-term such as disabilities. The results show that these networks strategically complement planned component of their transfers which are made on a regular basis such as remittance, entitlement, or chop money (small cash sums for household expenses). Moreover, we find significant history dependence in transfers from not only genetically distant networks but also extended family members as well as formal institutions, which seems to discourage dependency. Finally, the findings suggest significant heterogeneity in transfers.

Evaluating Endogenous Program Interventions with Heterogeneous Treatment Intensity using Bayesian Potential Outcomes Approach

In this paper, we implement a Bayesian potential outcomes model to evaluate the impact of program interventions using non-randomized data. The approach jointly addresses selection bias in program placement, heterogeneous treatment intensity among the treated, and heterogeneity in treatment effects. Using data from a non-randomized household survey, we evaluate the impact of Ethiopia's Health Extension Program on fertility and child mortality outcomes. We find that there is significant selection bias in both program placement and intensity of exposure to the program among the treated. On average, the program has significant impact on reducing fertility and child mortality. However, there is notable heterogeneity in the treatment effects ranging from negative impacts for some individuals to positive impacts for the majority in the sample. We recover individual-level treatment effects and present the distributions graphically.

Rising food prices and household welfare in Ethiopia: Evidence from micro data

The Ethiopian economy has witnessed a double-digit rate of inflation since 2003, culminating at 53% in June 2008. Particularly the significant rise in the relative prices of grain and other foodstuff such as sugar, edible oil and other necessities in recent period are very worrisome. Evidently such large changes in both absolute and relative prices in a space of few years can undermine the rebound in per capita incomes in the last decade and the poverty reduction effort of the government. The gravity of the problem has been well understood by policy makers, and efforts are underway to cushion vulnerable households from the consequences of the price surge. The potential role of such interventions can only be known if welfare effects of rising prices are understood. In addition, better measures of the key parameters that drive the demand for grain and other goods is a useful input to the analysis of the causes of relative price changes in Ethiopia.

Impact evaluation of the Ethiopian Health Services Extension Programme

Ethiopia has launched a pro-poor health services extension programme since 2003 to deliver preventive and basic curative health services to its inhabitants. Despite the massive support and recognition the programme has received, there has not been proper evaluation of its impact. This study has applied propensity score matching and regression adjustment techniques to evaluate the short-term and intermediate-term impacts of the programme on child and maternal health indicators in the programme villages. Empirical data for the study were collected from 3095 households from both programme and non-programme villages in rural Ethiopia. The estimated results indicate that the programme has significantly increased the proportion of children fully and individually vaccinated against tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus, and measles. The study finds heterogeneity in childhood immunisation coverage as a result of differences in terms of the number of health extension workers, in the quality of health posts and in terms of the educational achievement of mothers across programme villages. The proportions of children and women using insecticide-treated bednets for malaria protection are significantly larger in programme villages than in non-programme villages. The effect on preventive maternal care is rather limited. Whereas women in the programme villages appeared to make their first contact with a skilled health service provider significantly earlier during pregnancy, very little effect is detected on other prenatal and postnatal care services. Moreover, the programme has not reduced the incidence and duration of diarrhoea and cough diseases among under-five children.