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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Child health and women's asset ownership

Flag of Papua New Guinea
Several years ago, Yana Rodgers (Rutgers University) contacted me about applying for a contracting project with the Asian Development Bank using the 2009-2010 Papua New Guinea Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES). Of course I said "yes" to such a great opportunity and we were offered the project soon thereafter. We worked on the project for about a year and a half. Now that the report is done, we are using the data to address research questions that came up during the report. We have several questions, each likely a stand-alone paper.

Our first paper, Women's Asset Ownership and Children's Nutritional Status: Evidence from Papua New Guinea, was recently presented at the 2017 Biennial International Health Economic Association (iHEA) Meeting (Boston, MA) and submitted to a journal for publication. We are also hopeful for a presentation at the 2018 American Economic Association Annual Meeting. You can see the iHEA presentation slides here and the draft of our paper here. The abstract is here:

This study uses household survey data from 2009-2010 to examine how women’s asset ownership is associated with children’s nutritional status in Papua New Guinea, a country with some of the most severe child malnutrition in the world.  Women’s sole ownership of assets is expected to strengthen their bargaining power within the home, which increases investments in children’s health.  Results from ordinary least squares regressions point to beneficial effects of maternal asset ownership for children’s height-for-age, weight-for-height, and weight-for-age Z-scores, even after controlling for household characteristics.  Additional results from detailed quantile regressions indicate that these effects occur primarily at the median, although in some cases the strongest impacts occur at the lowest portions of the distribution.

The primary issue addressed in the paper is the impact of mother's asset ownership on the health of her children in Papua New Guinea. The HIES data offers the opportunity to examine this issue at the individual level. Six assets are identified, along with individual ownership status, in the survey: livestock, poultry, fishing equipment, agricultural equipment, furniture, and housing. A factor analysis grouped these into what we termed assets related to 1) food production and 2) shelter.

The WHO definitions of wasting, stunting, and underweight are used to quantify child health. Surveyors took these measurements in each home for children under the age of 5.

We employed OLS and quantile regression to estimate the impact of mother's asset ownership on child health, using the z-scores for each child health metric. OLS estimates capture the "action" at the mean and the quantile estimates capture the "action" across the distribution. We used the 0.05, 0.10, 0.50, 0.90, and 0.95 quantiles. Assets entered our regressions in various, separate ways, including several indexes we devised to reduce multicollinearity.

The results suggest that mother's asset ownership matters, in a positive way, to her children's health particularly at the middle of the distribution.

Conference participants and colleagues who read our paper offered a few comments which we will likely follow up with in a future paper. Those comments included:
1) What is the impact of the father on child health?  (NOTE: Father's education was not significant.)
2) Does the father's view of female autonomy matter?

If you are interested in more details about the paper or the results, please read it using the link above.

We would appreciate your input,

Monday, July 17, 2017

First few weeks

Briggs Field, MIT

I have been fully back to training after marathon/cellulitis for two weeks and am trying to be patient and adapt to training and the weather. So far so good.

Not surprisingly I am building back strength and endurance on land and in the pool and trying to incorporate running on soft surfaces as much as possible.

Last week was what I image to be a typical one for the next month or so (although the mileage will increase over that period.) I was in Boston Sunday-Tuesday presenting a paper at the International Health Economic Association Meeting, so I got to run in some new places.

Monday was 6 x 3:00 at tempo interval pace with 2:00 jogs between. My hotel was near MIT so I used Briggs Field, their intramural grass field (real grass, not artificial turf) which spanned 2 x 3 soccer fields. Perfect! Given that I will race 2-4 cross country races this fall, practicing running on surfaces that are not smooth like a road or track is important. My paces per mile were 6:10-6:20 for each 3:00 segment which I was pleased with. On the track or road that would have been 6:00-6:10 pace for a tempo effort.
I used fields 1-9 which all connect even with the track!
Due to travel I did not do the second workout until Saturday. I had a 20:00 tempo run. I have a love/hate relationship with tempo. I hate the pain but love the results. It was a typical humid morning in Virginia and I was OK with the 6:36/mile average pace (through three miles in 6:38, 6:36, 6:34) especially since I descended slightly and did it alone. Looking back at training from this time last year (which is not always a wise thing to do as we age) I am well ahead of what I was averaging back then.

Sunday was a longish (not long for a marathon runner) 1:20 run on the hills of Fincastle which went well even on the tired legs.

What I was most excited about was my swim session! I got a new batch of workouts from Coach Brett. One of the workouts I did was a total of 5,000 yds. with a main set of:

17 x 100 kick on 1:30 for 1-5, 1:25 for 6-10, 1:20 for 11-14, and 1:15 for 15-17.
17 x 100 free with fins and paddles do the same way except on 1:35, 1:30, 1:25, and 1:20

I did it! I love swimming and working with Brett who is so positive and encouraging. Plus it builds me into a better runner. Win-win-win.

In the next post I will write about the conference in Boston and our paper.

Run & swim,