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UNICEF Social Inclusion, Policy and Budgeting

The Impact of the Food and Financial Crises on Child Mortality: The Case of Sub-Saharan Africa

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AUTHOR Giovanni Andrea Cornia, Stefano Rosignoli and Luca Tiberti
ORGANIZATION UNICEF-Innocenti Research Centre
TYPE Field Examples
DATE 2011
TOPIC Economic crisis and recovery

The paper analyzes the causes of the decline of the under-5 mortality rate (U5MR) in subSaharan Africa over the years 1995-2007 by estimating an aggregate econometric model for a panel of 40 countries. This model is then used to compute the impact of the 2008-09 global economic crisis on child mortality, by comparing the number of child deaths which would have occurred under a ‘nocrisis counterfactual scenario’ with those computed under the actual  ‘crisis scenario’. The results suggest that in sub-Saharan Africa the economic slowdown – and in some countries the negative economic growth – generated by the global crisis caused an additional 27000 child deaths. However, if changes occurring during 2008-09 in other determinants of U5MR are factored in, the number of child deaths declined by 15000 units in relation to the counterfactual scenario. A protective effect on U5MR was played by the surge in food production and the increase of public expenditure and foreign aid to health. The countries most negatively affected by the impact of the crisis were the SudanoSahelian and Eastern African ones, while Coastal West Africa and Southern Africa generally experienced a steady decline in child deaths. Starting from the U5MR estimates for 2009, the model is also used to assess what values the determinants of U5MR should take over 2009-2015 in order for the countries of the region to meet the MDG4 target as closely as possible. Finally the paper analyzesthe determinants of U5MR inequality by wealth quintiles by making use of both aggregate and DHS data on access to services, family characteristics, income per capita, and other variables.

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