Mortality from Nestlé's Marketing of Infant Formula in Low and Middle-Income Countries

45 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2018 Last revised: 14 Jul 2023

See all articles by Jesse Anttila-Hughes

Jesse Anttila-Hughes

University of San Francisco

Lia Fernald

University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Berkeley - Division of Community Health Sciences

Paul J. Gertler

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Patrick Krause

University of California, Berkeley - Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA)

Bruce Wydick

University of San Francisco - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 2018

Abstract

Infant formula use has been implicated in tens of millions of infant deaths in low and middle-income countries over the past several decades, but causal evidence of its link with mortality remains elusive. We combine birth record data from over 2.6 million infants across 38 countries in the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) with reconstructed historical data from annual investor reports on the timing of Nestlé entrance into infant formula country markets. Consistent with the hypothesis that formula mixed with unclean water could act as a disease vector, we find that infant mortality increased in households with unclean water sources by 19.4 per thousand births following Nestlé market entrance, but had no effect among other households. This rate is equivalent to a 27% increase in mortality in the population using unclean water and amounts to about 212,000 excess deaths per year at the peak of the Nestlé controversy in 1981.

Suggested Citation

Anttila-Hughes, Jesse and Fernald, Lia and Gertler, Paul J. and Krause, Patrick and Wydick, Bruce, Mortality from Nestlé's Marketing of Infant Formula in Low and Middle-Income Countries (March 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24452, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3154216

Jesse Anttila-Hughes (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States

Lia Fernald

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
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University of California, Berkeley - Division of Community Health Sciences ( email )

United States

Paul J. Gertler

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

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Berkeley, CA 94720
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510-642-1418 (Phone)
510-642-4700 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Patrick Krause

University of California, Berkeley - Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) ( email )

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Berkeley, CA 94720-3310
United States

Bruce Wydick

University of San Francisco - Department of Economics ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117-1080
United States

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