An interesting paper here. Opening up the economy and helping people get richer is good for the kids.
Over a five-year period in the 1990s Vietnam experienced annual economic growth of more than 8% and a 15 point decrease in the proportion of children chronically malnourished (stunted). We estimate the extent to which changes in the distribution of
child nutritional status can be explained by changes in the level and distribution of income, and of other covariates. This is done using data from the
1993 and 1998 Vietnam Living Standards Surveys and a flexible decomposition technique based on quantile regression that explains change throughout the complete distribution of child
height. One-half of the decrease in the proportion of children stunted is explained by changes in the distributions of covariates and 35% is explained by change in the distribution of income. Covariates, including income, explain less of the decrease in
very severe malnutrition, which is largely attributable to change in the conditional distribution of child height.
Owen O'Donnell, Angel Lopez Nicolas and Eddy Van Doorslaer, Growing richer and taller: Explaining change in the distribution of child nutritional status during Vietnam's economic boom, Journal of Development Economics In Press, Accepted Manuscript, , Available online 26 January 2008.