Children's Growth and Poverty in Rural Guatemala

50 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Michele Gragnolati

Michele Gragnolati

World Bank - Latin America and Caribbean Region

Date Written: September 1999


Research confirms that poor child growth outcomes in Guatemala are the result of widespread poverty. The better the parents' education and household income, the less likely children are to suffer from malnutrition. Children also fare better where community infrastructure (such as piped water and garbage disposal) and health care facilities are better.

Gragnolati investigates the extent and determinants of poor child health and nutrition in rural Guatemala, as reflected in attained height.

Exploiting a rich data set on relevant social, economic, ethnic, and geographic characteristics, he estimates the role played by exogenous individual, household, and community covariates in shaping differentials in children's height.

Then he addresses empirical questions ignored in previous anthropometric research, such as the distribution of child stunting across communities and the magnitude of intrafamily correlation of height-for-age outcomes, before and after controlling for observed covariates.

His estimates are guided by the economic model of the family and the proximate determinants framework. He fits multilevel models to hierarchically clustered data to control for family and community heterogeneity.

His results confirm findings from previous research suggesting that poor child growth outcomes in Guatemala are the result of widespread poverty.

He finds that height-for-age differentials between children of ladino mothers and children of indigenous mothers who do not speak Spanish are larger among children of more educated parents and among children living in communities with better health care facilities.

Estimates derived from multilevel models reveal much clustering of child height-for-age outcomes within families and communities. The models account for most of the community-level variation in child growth patterns but explain only half of the overall intrafamily correlation.

This paper - a product of the Human Development Sector Unit, Latin America and the Caribbean Region - is part of a larger effort in the region to study poverty and human development indicators. Michele Gragnolati may be contacted at Internet address

Suggested Citation

Gragnolati, Michele, Children's Growth and Poverty in Rural Guatemala (September 1999). Available at SSRN:

Michele Gragnolati (Contact Author)

World Bank - Latin America and Caribbean Region ( email )

1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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