We examine the nutritional status of a cohort of poor Ethiopian children and their patterns of catch-up growth in height-for-age between three key development stages: age 1, age 5 and age 8 years. We use ordinary least squares (within community) and instrumental variables analysis. During the earliest period, we find that nutritional catch-up patterns vary substantially across socioeconomic groups: average catch-up growth in height-for-age is almost perfect among children in relatively better-off households, while among the poorer children, relative height is more persistent. Between 5 and 8 years of age, however, we find near-perfect persistence and no evidence of heterogeneity in catch-up growth. Our findings suggest that household wealth, and in particular access to services, can lead to substantial catch-up growth early on in life. However, for our sample, the window of opportunity to catch up appears to close as early as the age of 5.
Keywords: Catch-up growth, nutrition, children, Ethiopia.
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