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Are Poor Individuals Mainly Found in Poor Households? Evidence using Nutrition Data for Africa

Caitlin S. Brown, Martin Ravallion, Dominique van de Walle

NBER Working Paper No. 24047
Issued in November 2017
NBER Program(s):Development Economics

Antipoverty policies assume that targeting poor households suffices in reaching poor individuals. We question this assumption. Our comprehensive assessment for sub-Saharan Africa reveals that undernourished women and children are spread widely across the household wealth and consumption distributions. Roughly three-quarters of underweight women and undernourished children are not found in the poorest 20% of households, and around half are not found in the poorest 40%. Countries with higher undernutrition tend to have higher shares of undernourished individuals in non-poor households. The results are consistent with intra-household inequality but other factors also appear to be at work including common health risks.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24047

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